The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that supposedly restores youth to anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world but for 94-year old Revia Manuel of the Helena Crossing community, the fountain of youth is the very thing that you surround yourself with – love.
The Helena Crossing community came together for its bi-annual reunion on May 25 and was encouraged to learn that one of the oldest living residents still resides right next to the church.
“Revia Manuel is the oldest living resident of Helena Crossing,” confirmed County Clerk Linda White.
According to White, the majority of the residents have passed on. However, 10 or 12 original residents still live in the Helena Crossing area.
Born in 1919, Manuel was raised in Marvell and grew up in the tight-knit community most of her young adult life. Manuel recalled her days as a young lady, tagging along with two brothers and playing ball. Manuel later married her one and only husband and moved to Helena Crossing in 1953 where she continued to raise eight children on her own after her husband passed away.
“We struggled, and times were tough then but we had what we needed,” commented Manuel.
Manuel said she worked in the cotton patches, picking and loading cotton from dark until dark.
“If you didn't work, you get nothing,” she said.
Manuel recalled the time when her house burned down and despite the loss of the very shoes on her feet, she took, not sent, her children to church every Sunday.
“We grew up in a house of love and worship,” said her daughter Jarelene Gilmore.
Manuel says life at 94 years old is a blessing and her days are now spent watching her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren growing up around her, surrounding her with more love than she could've asked God to give her.