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.

May 23, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

May 23, 1910

My Dear Boy,

We got your two good letters with so much good news that we scarcely know what is the matter. How thankfull if not proud we aught to be over your success. I think I can see the bright beams on your face when you was selected for the place over so many who no doubt had used all manner of devices to get the place. It looks to me now that the whole world was before you with instructions to go in and take it. You will certainly have good chance to show what is in you. I often think of what you said last summer, "I will give him all that is in me. And I will be the happiest boy on earth if I can get that job." The first is an accomplished fact. The second I hope is true. I think when you get it deffinately from Dr. Cushing I would like to have it inserted in the Sentinel so that people can see it.

Well you have finaly got us guessing a whole lot about quitting, moveing, etc. Your instructions are no doubt right. But it is going to require nerve to do it. We have talked over the matter since your letter and at present we think it best to remain as at present until you come home. However, Mama will tell you all about it in her letter as she knows best.

I thought about you the other morning. I had about 200 MSU students on No. 5 for points south. Well everything is about the same on the road. Except we had a very bad wreck in Boonville Yard yesterday morning. I did not get home till about 2 PM as No. 3 could not get by.…

Yesterday I saw the man I told you about some time ago that got hurt in wreck and who is partly paralized. He is just settling up with the Co. He wanted to know when you would be home. He said he would like you to examine him. I told him he had better get pass and go to Baltimore. He said if their was no danger in delays he would wait and let you examine him and if you thought they could do him any good he would go to Baltimore for operation.

Your affectionate Father


May 30, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

May 30, 1910

Well My Dear Boy,

…Got your letter and above all got your present which is fine. But scarcely becoming for an engineer. I will be affraid to dirty it. Besides the standard of other things will have to be considerably elivated or be put badly in the shade. Mama and me had no idea 25 years ago of ever using such nice things. They are sure a contrast from what we started with, but the old saying is true. All good things come to them who wait. And surely their are many good things come to us, things we should and are truly thankful for. Things that even put the magnificent silverware in the shade and which I esteem better then anything on earth. That is my boy and the success he as made. He does not have to be any corporations dog to go at their biding or they will deprive him of work, and therefore of the means of life for him and his loved ones.

And I can truthfully say that the money spent on you for the purpose of educating you has been the most pleasent of any ever given, or even pleasanter to give it you then to receive it. And as hard as we have both worked to get it (and keep it) it was always our greatest delight to forward our boy all he wanted. And we often have said we never missed it. And now the end is in sight, am glad you are through your most stormy passage and that with good health and mind to direct you the remainder of your course. And I hope your paths will be made as clear to you in the future as the past. For which we could ask nothing more. For you have certainly had everything come just right as though it had come to order.

Your affectionate Father


May 30, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

May 30, 1910

My Dear Son,

…We were very agreeably surprised on the 25th anniversary of our marriage to receive your congratulations, which touched us deeply and brought tears to our eyes. We both had to weep. Wept to think my life did not compare with that standard of perfection. May we have more desires than ever to covet those noble gifts, and to press onward upward, homeward to a higher and holier life. It has been a great priviledge and pleasure to do what little we could for you. Your progress in life has made us very happy and has more than repaid us for anything we have done.

In reading your letter this morning, was surprised you had sent us any present, as we did not think from your letter last week you had sent anything. Was not expecting anything. We have not received it yet or heard anything about it. Probably you had better write about it, if you think it had ample time to get here. Thank you very much for your consideration and love in this matter.

Was rather dissappointed you could not stay home longer this summer. Try and get one month anyway. You have to loaf awhile to recuperate after the trying ordeal of those exams. You are young and can't stand it like Dr. Cushing, a man of mature years. We are proud to hear he wanted you to work but would rather you had a little longer holiday.

I had Mrs. Minnier and daughter the other night. I told them about your fine position. She seemed pleased. Said we ought to be proud of you. I said we certainly was. We went to B.'s last week. They just got through washing. Polly seemed happy. But I think she has to work harder than she ever did. The mother doesn't seem very happy. Still talking of going to England. Mr. Jakemen has gone to England for a 3 months visit. He did not take a valise or anything to wear, only six handkerchiefs. Cravens are anxious to go there to live but they can't sell their home.…

Well your present has just arrived. While I was writing it came. On opening was surprised to see such a brilliant display of silverware, nicest I ever saw. Simply gorgeous. Nearly took our breath. Papa says it will go fine with his Silvereen suit. Well Walter I am dumbfounded. Don't know how to express my thanks for such a magnificent present. Many many thanks. I will close now hoping soon to see you and eat off my nice silverware.…

Your loving Mother



I believe I would take the state board exams, and be done with it.


May 30, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. May 30, 1910

Walter,

We were just reading over your letter and I thought if you have to take the board exams, you could be apt to do better work in that line now than years later as all the questions will be fresh in your mind but you know best.

It rained so we did not get to cemetery.

In bed this A.M. Mama was just wondering how much our present cost. She says for me to weedle arround you and find out as you would not tell her. She is now looking at them. She says aint them nice, to nice for me. I shall give them to Walter.

Your affectionate Father


June 1, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

June, 1910



Just got home again after rather nice trip with fine nice weather. Lots of freight business so much they can't get over the road. Mostly coal from Illinois as miners in South won't accept company terms.

Well Walter Mama has finaly and as usual found out how much her present cost. She has done some loud figuaring and arrived at the following, "Walter said $75 would be ample to put him through. We sent him $100. Now he wants $25 more so he must have paid the difference which is $50. Isn't this like her. Can't beat her. We are going this P.M. to send you $50 for your graduation present. Not for silverware as per Mama.

Your affectionate Father & Mother


June 6, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

June 6, 1910

My Dear Boy, who is now A.B. and M.D.

I saw in yesterdays Democrat Sentenal wheir you where going to graduate from Johns Hopkins. But it did not state that you had been appointed Asst Brain Surgeon. That would have put the finishing touches on the other. Well Mama and me does considerable talking but little action about going to live in Baltimore. In R.R. slang I think we need a pusher to help us over the hill.…

Wishing you success in your Cushing article and pleasant graduation and State Bord Examination.

Your affectionate Father


June 6, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

June 6, 1910

My Dear Son,

…Mr. Letts phoned to say your pass had come, so Pa went down for it. It is free both ways on B&O. So that is pretty good. Papa will send it when he comes in-in a special letter.

Pa said this evening that every berth was taken on the Flyers out of San Antonio till 1st of July. He said for me to tell you as he forgot too.

We went last week and visited all the east Sedalia crowd. They were all asking about you. We went to the hospital to see Moses Donnelly. He has had convolutions of the brain. He was unconscious from Sunday till Friday. Come pretty near dying. They fetched him to the Katy hospital. Dr. Kelly is treating him. He says when he looks sideways, his eye will stay there, or looks up it will stay up. His wife was with him. He hadn't been feeling well for months.

We called on Kate and Ervie. She says they have to economise now. They get $4 out of the union per week. He says they did pretty well that week. Lived on $2. Didn't buy any meat, eat eggs. He is going to shingle the house and paint it.

Pa told you I was under the weather again. Well I come unwell again, but I am not feeling bad. I felt like I used too when I came around; backaches, but was feeling better yesterday and today. My neighbor went on a visit to Kansas for a few days but has got back. I was alone nearly a week. I like them here at night better. It has been very comfortable here this winter.

I don't know how to advise about the suitcase. If you are only home for 3 or 4 weeks, you won't need many clothes, but if you are home all summer, you would need more. I don't think I would bother with a trunk. Pa has an old grip here. You please yourself in the matter.…

Your loving Mother



Soon be Doctor now. Goodbye my dear boy.


June 12, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

June 12, 1910

My Dear Boy,

Just returned and received your much welcomed letter, and let me congratulate you on your acheivement on the home stretch at last, for you certainly did fine to pass 9 of them. But these things missed will be trifles compared with later accomplishments in your chosen calling that will adorn your name. Your letter would indicate that Dr. Cushing has some emotion in him but requires a great thing to draw it out of him and I was pleased you was able to do it. I would have liked to have seen him pull your hair or rather seen your face at the time. You certainly must have felt good to get congratulations from such a person but I think you well deserved it. But I again admonish you don't work to hard for fear of injury to your self. Will send you $20 next time I come in.…

You are right about not advertizing the Flyer as much as the Limited. I think they want to divert the travel in the Limited and make it easier for the Flyer. They have been wanting to put on sleeper for Mexico on Flyer but can't on account of trains being too heavy for the engines. I suppose when they get the new big passenger engines then they will put on more train so the conditions will be about the same. The Limited is certainly a fine train and patronized by fine men as you can see for yourself when you come home on it.

If you will only look through one of the looking glasses and see the reflection of the finest boy on earth. I want to come and meet you down the road but Mama says no I can't see you before her except from the depot so you can guess what I will do.…

Your affectionate Father


June 12, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

June 12, 1910

My Dear Son,

…Sorry you will not have a longer time at home. Try and get a month at the least. We were pleased to hear of Cushing being so pleased with your work and also pleased to hear you had gained so much as to stand seventeen in your class. You must have done some good work to jump over 9 men. I am glad you were inside the limit for an internship, even if you did not want it.

Papa has just gone to make another trip and if he does as you say he has not many more to make. I don't believe he will worry much about having anything to do. If you will keep him supplied with the Appeal and Wilshire's etc. he can get along very well without having anything to do. Why couldn't he when he can have every nights sleep and 3 meals a day and all the Silvereens he cares to wear. Don't you think he will be all right.

Papa is anxious to know who the surgeon was that sent him such good news about you.

I phoned to Mrs. Gornal a little while ago to hear if she knew anything about a fight the machinists and scabs had the other evening at the shops. She hadn't heard, only that a few got hurt.

She said Polly Foraker had got a stone in front of there house and had the name Foraker on it. Polly told us she was going to have it done, but we did not think she would have the nerve to do it. The mother said she did not care whether they did or not. Polly wrote to Stanley and told him what she was going to do and he said she had lots of gall to do it. I think it was unkind of Polly to ignore her mother to such an extent.

Well I am sure you are happy now. You ought to be the happiest boy on earth. Such fine prospects ahead of you.…

Your loving Mother


June 19, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

June 19, 1910

My Dear Son,

…Glad to hear you are well, but sorry you lost so much of that good fat we put on last summer. If you would do as I say I would tell you to come home for the summer. The others are away resting up and enjoying themselves and I believe none of them need it more than you do. I think you would accomplish more after you got back if you would take a couple of months any how, if Dr. Cushing doesn't make arrangements and want you there in the hospital. I would take two months anyhow. The physical part is more important than the mental. It is too hot to work much. If Cushing is not particular about you staying in the summer you come home till it is time to go back to your position, then you will feel like working. You must not work too hard. Come home before all cherries and strawberries has gone. Let us know as soon as you decide when and how long you can stay.…

Sorry about your pictures not being good. I thought you were making fun about them being punk. Try and get some good ones if you can.

I have not seen any of B.'s for a couple of weeks. She is fixing the house, making some repairs in place of going to England. Polly will like that better anyhow.…

I think this is the last letter to you till we see you. Soon be able to kiss the doctor. Wish to congratulate you on the M.D.

Your loving Mother


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