Sailor’s letter finally arrives 68 years later, sent in 1945
(Originally published in The Dundalk Eagle, May 30, 2013. Copyright 2013 The Dundalk Eagle. Used by permission.)
By Nicole Rodman
The Dundalk Eagle
Usually, when a postcard is sent from one part of the state to another, it takes just a few days to reach its destination.
Sometimes it takes a little bit longer.
Rarely does it take 68 years, as it did in the case of Donald Warner Sr.
Warner was just 18 years old in 1945 when he left the Penwood Avenue home where he was born and raised to enter the U.S. Navy.
At training camp in Bainbridge, Md., Warner bought a postcard, emblazoned with the U.S. Navy emblem, dashed off a note to his mother, and, on April 11, 1945, dropped it in the mail.
From then on, he thought nothing of the little card.
He continued his service for another two years, left the Navy, came home and continued his life. He got married and moved in with his in-laws to the other end of Penwood Avenue before eventually returning to his childhood home, where he remains to this day.
So, when the mailman showed up at his door this past April 27 with a special delivery, it was, to say the least, unexpected.
Knocking on the door, the mailman explained that he had to deliver this special piece of mail in person. It was the very postcard Warner had sent his mother back in 1945.
According to the mailman, he had been gathering his mail for that day when he came across an older-looking postcard among his deliveries.
How it got there, after all this time, he was unable to say.
For his part, Warner noted that he was “surprised” to see the card after all this time, explaining, “I thought she had already received it.”
While The Eagle did attempt to contact the Dundalk Post Office for background on the postcard, no information was made available by press time.
Regardless of how the postcard suddenly found its way home, decades after it was sent, Warner was glad to see the letter, though his mother had passed away many years before its arrival.
“She never got to read it,” he said.
Looking at the card, Warner was reminded of his service during World War II and all that had happened since he sent it as a young man.
As he mentioned in the postcard that never reached his mother, shortly after the card was sent, Warner was stationed on a destroyer — the U.S.S. Barker.
Warner was only on that destroyer for about a month when the war in Europe ended.
He was then assigned to the U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., where he was serving when the war with Japan ended three months later in early September.
As Warner noted, he was in “the tail-end” of the war, as he had to wait until he turned 18 to join.
Once he did come of age, however, he enlisted in the Navy because, as he explained, “I didn’t want to go in the Army.”
Reading his older brother’s letters from his service in the Army during World War II was enough to convince young Warner that he would rather serve his country in the Navy.
“You got three meals a day and a clean bed to sleep in,” he said of the Navy.
Both he and his brother returned home safely after the war. His brother passed away in 2008 at the age of 90.
Both of their names are listed on a Fort Howard monument, built and maintained by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, North Point Lodge No. 4.
The monument honors residents of the North Point peninsula who served during World War II.
After the war, Warner returned home, got married and began working as a carpenter at Sparrows Point.
Today, he still resides in the same Penwood Avenue home where he was born.
And, though 68 years passed between sending and receiving the postcard, he is glad to see it again after all these years.
“It just took awhile getting here, that’s all.”
Editor’s Note: Don Warner, Sr. is the grandfather of Ron Schott, General Manager/Editor of The Vandalia Leader. He is also the mother of Kay Schott, of Vandalia.