My best shotSir Walter's perspectivepBy Lowell Repp, Bel...

PERSONAL JOURNEYS

August 01, 1999

My best shot

Sir Walter's perspectivep

By Lowell Repp, Bel Air

This picture was taken June 1999 on the lower level of the Elizabeth II in Manteo, on Roanoke Island, N.C. The ship is a reproduction of the type of vessel used in Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke voyages more than 400 years ago.

A MEMORABLE PLACE

In search of a lost father

By Jack E. Winder

Special to the Sun

Finding your father's grave in most families is an easy task; for my brother and me, it became a 10-year odyssey.

In 1929, the year of the Great Depression, my father abandoned my mother, my brother (who was a year old) and me (at the ripe old age of 3 years). My mother was forced to work two jobs to support us. She worked as a waitress from early morning through lunch and as a telephone operator on the evening shift.

While growing up, we had no contact with my father's relatives and had little interest in him or his whereabouts. Only when symptoms of a medical problem, which seemed to have hereditary implications, surfaced did we decide to track down our phantom sire and his medical records.

He had lied about his age on the marriage license, making him seem three years younger. This created a multitude of problems in our search. We also discovered he had spelled his last name Wynder and used a first and middle name different from but similar to his given names.

After hundreds of dead ends, we found he had died in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1979. With the help of the mayor, local newspaper, a retired doctor and a funeral home, we were able to piece together some of his life. We found that he had married twice more and that both wives had preceded him in death. The trail led us to Ponce's Inlet, where he had captained pleasure fishing boats until blindness forced him into retirement.

We went to the nursing home where he had died. Its medical records ruled out the symptoms we were worried about, but we were curious to find out more about him.

We visited Ponce's Inlet and toured the fishing docks and an old Coast Guard lighthouse. We were referred to the lighthouse keeper's daughter, a Mrs. Davis, who still resided in the area. As a young girl, she had prepared and sold sandwiches to the fishing parties and would have known our father.

When she answered my knock on the door, her first words were, "You're Shield's son" (my father's nickname). She said she knew him when he was about my age and I was a mirror image of him. Mrs. Davis was a delightful lady and was able to describe him in detail, filling a void that had existed for many, many years.

We later visited his grave, not to grieve, because we had hardly known him, but to put to rest a 68-year-old mystery.

Jack E. Winder lives in Westminster.

JUST BACK FROM...

England

Cynthia Linthicum

Towson

"I just returned from touring the English countryside. My home base was a 300-year-old stone cottage with thatched roof in the village of Sudborough in the Midlands. The village had one pub, one cemetery and this charming telephone booth. The phone worked and I called my son to describe my quaint and lovely surroundings."

Toronto

Lauren Morris

Cockeysville

"Recently my family and I went to the cosmopolitan city of Toronto. We saw the Orioles play the Blue Jays in an exciting but disappointing game at the elaborate Sky Dome. The highlight of our trip was having lunch at the CN Tower revolving restaurant overlooking this beautiful city."

LET US HEAR FROM YOU

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your memories, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

* Give us your recommendations of places to visit. Where are you just back from? Tell us where you've recently visited and what tips you can pass along about your trip to other readers. Or tell us about your favorite destinations. Our current question: Where was your favorite vacation with the kids? And why? Please answer in 50 words or less.

* In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that changed you, about the nostalgia a certain place evokes, about the power of a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. (Cash value: $150)

* Give us your best shot -- a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. Include your name and phone number along with the print. (Cash value: $50)

Because of the volume of responses, photos and manuscripts cannot be individually acknowledged or returned.

Send by fax to 410-783-2519, or write to: Travel Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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