In the summer of 1941, Helen fell in love with a lifeguard named Woodie. They are both 83 now and live in Cheraw, S.C., not far from the park where they met as teenagers.
The lifeguard: When I was 16, I went with several friends to the Cheraw State Park and fell in love with one of the lifeguards. He took me sailing, but I didn't make enough of an impression for him to contact me again. I didn't want to seem too bold about contacting him, so at Christmas I sent cards to all the lifeguards. Woodie was the only one to look me up.
The war: He came to see me at a basketball game in my hometown of Wadesboro. We started dating, but when World War II came along he went into the Navy. I went to college and dated other boys, but I never had feelings for them like I had for Woodie. He was gone for 21/2 years.
The ship: I went to work in Washington in the summer of 1945. All of a sudden I wanted to see Woodie again, so I wrote him a letter. His ship had just come into port in San Francisco, where he received my letter. Instead of flying home, he came to see me. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. A year later we were married.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer