Walter E. Dandy Letters

We are proud to host the transcripts of Walter E. Dandy’s correspondence with his family. These letters illustrate the personal side of this neurosurgical genius, spanning his early college education through senior tenure at Johns Hopkins Medical School.

December 31, 1907

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

December 31, 1907

My Dear Son,

…Pleased you changed boarding houses. Don't stay to long at one place unless it is very good. If your present place is not satisfactory go and get your meal ticket at some good hotel or restaurant. Never mind the price. Charge it to me.

Many thanks for the Christmas present. I think it the most interesting book I ever read. He is sure a smart old man but I am afraid you made a mistake in sending it to us, or me at least for since I read it I have raised the standard for you to attain. I feel like I want you to have better positions and use better language, etc., than he does which is almost impossible.

Well the year is about gone. Am now feeling better that you did not come because you would have been getting ready to go back. Mama has been game. I believe she beat me this time. When you get to your new kind of work I want you to tell us lots about it. Don't work to hard is my New Year wish for you and take good care of yourself. Don't forget to tell us what Jackson and Mall said about you.

Your affectionate Father


March 1, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. Spring, 1908

My Dear Boy,

…We feel the time near till we see you. Mama was wishing she would feel as good when you come home as she does now so she could cook for you. She is feeling good and looking fine. Could you find her a nice hat in Baltimore that don't resemble a wheel barrow upside down?

Well my boy things on the road are about normal. Been on time for a long time with heavey trains and good runs. I like the runs better all the time. I see from the Parsons paper where all the big Katy officials met in Dallas to perfect arangements for the new trains (passengers), also where some of the new passenger engines have left the works. Should be here in about 10 days.

I saw Stanley Battersby on Ohio Street this A.M. He did not see me. He was with another young man. He looks well, has side burns wiskers on his face. Well I think I had better close as I have a few more jobs to do for Mama before I go out this P.M.

Your affectionate Father


October 1, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. October, 1908

My Dear Son,

…Papa says there is a great deal of talk that they will put another Flyer on the early part of the year. He says he will try to get it. It will be mostly daylight. He would have 2 nights and one day at home and 2 days one night away. I think I would like that better.

Mrs. B. came up Friday evening. I told her we thought of going down on Sunday as Papa would be home, so she told us to come. We went and stayed for supper. We had a nice time.

Mrs. B. and Polly went to Cole Camp. Stanley kept wanting her to go.… She says he would just be satisfied if Polly and her would come down and live there. He would never get married. (He knows how to please his mother.)

She couldn't talk of much besides Stanley and how well he was doing. She says he worried a great deal at Warsaw and she found out lately what it was about. He had so many good jobs offered him he did not know what to do. A young doctor at Warsaw offered him $125 per month to go out and sell his medicine. Then there was another county practice offered him, then he went north to see some other place, I believe she said a hospital, and he found so many of them fast young doctors that to keep up with them it would take all he made. So after a great deal of worrying he concluded he would go to Cole Camp and practice there.

I believe now from what you wrote it would be that girl that caused the worrying. Papa thinks that was a dirty trick to do a girl, but that is just like him. He had better not tell his mother or Polly he is thinking of getting married.

Dr. Kelly told Schwald he was a fool to make a partner of Stanley and give him such consideration. He wants to sell him his practice for $2,000. Stanley thinks he is quite Schwald's equal, but she says they don't think he is. If you hear any more about him and the girl you might let us know.…

How did you get that appointment in N.Y. that ought to be nice for you. I am glad your suit fits fine. I thought there could be improvement over the others. Have you started to wear it? We like to hear of your cases. Is there any cure for that poor boy with a bad lung.

Papa leveled 15th St. lot, sowed grass seed and wheeled some dirt. He got Tomilson to fix the cellar wall.… Hauptly showed Papa the card you sent him. He was tickled about it. She is well pleased with everything. It looks very nice. I would like to live there myself.

Gornal has not worked but one trip since the fair. He says they keep them 6 hours on the road. He said he didn't want to be raw-hided like that. He says they have poor engines and everything is in such poor shape, he hates to go out. He came pretty near running into a train. He had no head light, and he believes they would have fired him if he had hit it. So that has scared him too.…

Papa went over this morning. Jim was helping her to wash. Papa asked him when he was going to work. He said he was going to vote tomorrow a straight Socialist ticket and then he was going to work and work like the Dickens (he is lazy, he looks well and fat). He said he would have to get some one to fix his wall. Papa told him to do it himself.

We have 4 gallons of fine wine best we have had. I gave Mrs. B. some. She said it was fine, best we ever had.…

I don't want to hear of you getting any thinner. You had lost one pound more. I am afraid you are working too hard. Couldn't you get supper at 7 o'clock…. It is a pity you have to hurry like this. Do you get 3 good meals a day? Couldn't you get a good looking house near to school?…

Your loving Mother


October 4, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

October 4, 1908

My Dear Son,

…Glad to hear you arrived all right. Sorry to hear your landlady went back on you. Perhaps you ought to have written sooner about it. Hope you have found a better one.

We have been lonesome since you went away but I realize how much better it is for you to be at your studies and accomplish the desires of your heart, a star in your profession. I am thankful that you have the opportunity to become such.

I hope you had a nice trip and that your lunch did not get stale. Tell us all when you write.

Papa had a fine trip last one, like he had when you were on. He will be in in the morning as this is Sunday. I am alone and I have rested the greater part of the day. Papa was at Gornals. Mrs. G. said she never saw you looking as well. Jim said man but Walter got to be a big fellow. What shoulders he has got.

I have not seen any of B.'s since you left. This is fair week, I suppose we will have to take it in. There is nothing new here since you went away.…

Your loving Mother


October 10, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. October 10, 1908

My Dear Son,

…Sorry you are not settled so as you would have nothing to do but study. They are very high with room and board. You ought to form a club like Columbia and bring these women to time. There is no board or room worth that much. Just do the best you can. Don't worry if you do have to pay those high prices.…

Mall thought you did not get back very soon and I thought you had got back too soon.

I hope you keep looking well and soon weigh 150 lbs. You ought to have eat your chicken according to your bread. Sorry you did not have plenty to last till you got to Baltimore. Did it taste good?

Papa says we must go to the fair tomorrow and see the horse splash.

Your loving Mother


October 12, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

October 12, 1908

My Dear Son,

Received your letter this morning, and it is a wonder it reached here as there is no stamp on it. It is a wonder they did not send from Baltimore for a stamp, then we would have been minus your letter today and I would have been sorry, for every word of it was very interesting, and especially when you have so much washing of your hands. When you were born I don't believe Bronson washed his hands at all.

You had quite a busy time of it. Do those patients have to pay, or is it gratis? Let us know if your blue baby lived. It is a wonder they would risk their lives with you young students.

I am glad you got a room for yourself. It is much nicer to be alone. Have you got a nice room?… I am glad you have a good boarding place. Don't you go home for dinner? You say you don't go home for breakfast till supper time. You won't get very fat if you miss meals. Don't neglect having a good dinner. I am glad to hear they are complimenting on your getting fat.…

We went around 15th Street. You made a great improvement. It looks like you must have had lots of good hard work. It looks nice inside.

Mr. Hauptly was asking Papa if we had a letter from you. He said you said you would send him a card telling him how politics were in Baltimore, and if they needed him there he would go to Baltimore. So when you have time drop him a card and tell him all. It would please the old man. She said you worked hard, and that we ought to be proud of you.

We went to the fair on Thursday. There was a big crowd. We got for 50 cts. employee ticket. Papa lost 20 or 30 cts. out of his Silvereens. Just think of it, bran new suit and a big hole in the pocket. He just happened to see the money coming down and put his hand in his pocket and the whole bottom was out of it. If he losses a few times like that he will soon be out the price of a tailor made.

I saw in the window today a tailor made suit for $32. The cloth was not nice. I would like to see you in yours. Let him make it in the very latest and up to date style. Send me a little piece of the goods to see it, as I won't be able to see it on you for sometime.

I have not seen any of B.'s since you went away. Nor any of the English crowd. Papa has just gone. He has been having good runs. Sometimes it is a little hard trying to make up a little time. He likes this fireman better than Wilson.

We have not had chicken since you went away. One of the little ones got run over on the street and broke its thigh, so Papa killed it.…

Aren't you going to have time to finish your model. Too bad if you can't complete it.…

Your loving Mother


October 12, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

October 12, 1908

My Dear Boy,

We got your letter today. Had been downtown and around 15th Street. 15th Street looks good now. Got it papered and varnished.…

It is 3 P.M. The Flyer has just gone past. Delayed in Texas by freight train wreck.…

Well I must congratulate you on your new work but I think they gave you too much in one night. If they keep up that pace the census of Baltimore will look good to Teddy Roosevelt. He ought to complement you especially on the one that was about dead that you restored by slapping on the back. Mama thinks your hands ought to have been clean after all that washing. I think you will begin to think that you ought to have done Dr. Mall's work this summer instead of working at 15th St.…

Mama thinks you should have got about $40 for that night's work. Will conclude with best wishes for the best boy on earth.

Your affectionate Father


October 27, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

October 27, 1908

My Dear Son,

…You may be sure we enjoy reading your letters and especially where there is any praise attached to it. When Papa comes to the place in your letter where you were called up by Dr. Barker and answered his question he says let us read that over again. He says that does me more good than anything, to hear of him surprising those fellows.…

I was glad your suit was nice and fitted fine. You wear it and dress nice. A person don't look well in shabby clothes. You ought to get your hat cleaned and put in a nice shape. I think it would look nice on you for a change.…

Haven't seen any of the English people since you went away, and haven't seen any of B.'s since Stanley and his mother were here and consequently have not much gossip to tell you.…

Saw in the paper where engineer Bohon took the bankruptcy. He met Papa this morning downtown, and wanted to borrow $75 of him. Papa told him he would have some trouble to get it. He said he would get it somewhere. He got Hoffman for $350 and Fireman Smallwood for $50 and a time clerk at Franklin for $60. The clerk says he will have to pay him, and Smallwood is getting after him. He told Smallwood if he kept quiet he would pay him. He is not a bit ashamed.…

I saw Miss Stanley go past this evening. She thought you ought to have gone out whether it rained or not by the card she sent you. I am afraid you are working too hard. You ought to go to bed early. You must not work too hard, to impair your health. Health first before everything.

It is a great pleasure to us to hear of your work and to hear of you doing so well, and to be able to surprise your teacher. I don't want to give you any hot air but I think it was great. Tell us everything. Don't keep anything back. It is too good to be hid.…

Your loving Mother


October 27, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

October 27, 1908

My Dear Boy,

…Mama and I have not quite decided which of us you take after for ability. I upholstered the old lounge yesterday and made a good job of it and she remarked that you must take after me. Of course she helped with the lounge. If we had not done something to it you would have had to sit on it if anyone came in as of yore. I just changed cover end for end.

Well my boy, you must have felt good when you showed what was in you to such good advantage before Dr. Barker and the class. But you did not feel any better over it than we did. If I was not afraid of you working too hard, I would advise you to finish your work on the embryo for Dr. Mall so we could hear of some more glory being added to the best and brightest boy on earth but we are satisfied to wait your own good time.

Well, everything on the railroad is about as usual. Had some good but rather hard runs account of high winds etc. Have been running late for some time account of high water south. Will close and gave place to superior ability (Mama).

Later. Just went through a cyclone of Mama's vengeance after reading my…letter. She says I have not told you half enough especially railroad news, so I guess I will have to tell you something more. Well in regard to the new runs, if they ever go on, don't think it will make much difference with me as some of the runs will be pulled off and others put on.…

I don't think they will make any changes. Awer grevence committe is still in session but not makeing much progress.

Was glad you got to hear Debs.

I lost my fireman Wilson. He got promoted. I have Sell Spendiff now. The freight runs between Franklin and Hannabel is put on again. J.K. Smith got one and T. White got the other.… I think they was in big luck to get them. They will shortly be able to make trades with Eastern men and work out of Sedalia. Or if they change passenger runs as contemplated they will no doubt run freight runs through to Sedalia also. The older Extra men will then feel sore they let them go by.…

Will close with best wishes and highest success of the best boy that ever lived.

Your affectionate Father


November 1, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. November, 1908

My Dear Son,

…I have a good many pullets laying. Someone got your old pet hen that fetched chickens out so early. I will set chickens if you come home.

Mrs. B. says you told her you might never come back anymore. I have not seen them for sometime. She has been to Cole Camp again.

Glad to hear you are so brave in performing operations. You ought to make a fine surgeon. Tender but brave. How often do you perform operations. We like to hear about them. Glad you are getting along with your embryo. Hope you will get it finished. It would be too bad if you didn't.…

Your loving Mother


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