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.

September 21, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

September 21, 1910

My Dear Son,

…Well your vacation is a thing of the past. We had great pleasure in looking forward to it but now we will have to take pleasure in remembering it. We were very lonesome after you went away and I think Pa was more so than he usually had been.… I was rather amused at him the other morning. He said Mama but it is lonesome. How have we ever got along without our boy. We are gradually settling down and looking forward for good news from our boy.

Mrs. Smith phoned to see if I was lonesome. She was feeling pretty bad about Paul being away. Miss Kennedy phoned to see if I was lonesome and if I would go to church with her and wanted me to go and see them. I thought it very nice of her. More than any of the English crowd did. Mrs. Minnier and Florence and Mrs. Looney came last night. Mrs. Looney said she would be satisfied if she raised as good a boy as you. They are all in love with you. If you had stayed much longer, you would have had a time to get rid of them. Mrs. Dusenberry said what a fine young man you are. Mrs. Phelan said Mrs. Dusenberry cried and Mrs. Taylor said even the monkey cried when he saw you go away with your valise. The Taylors told her the little milk girl was just crazy over you. She told them Walter didn't care for any girl, he was too much in love with his work to think anything about girls and she believed he rather have a good game of ball.…

Let me know did you have enough lunch with you. I hope you are able to get a nice room.

I think Pa is feeling more like quitting since you went away. When you find out anything about house, rent etc. let us know.… Did they think you had got fatter? What did your land lady think about you.…

Your loving Mother


September 26, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

September 26, 1910

My Dear Son,

…Well Papa went out yesterday. He will be in in the morning. He hasn't laid off for about a year, but I suppose you already know he is not much on laying off. We are getting a little more used to our situation here. Not feeling quite so lonely. Feels better when we hear good news from you.

I am quite pleased to hear that the young men would consider or think of you for Cushing's place. They must have a high opinion of you. A great deal more than you have of yourself. Of course we have said such things in fun, but it was a great compliment to you for those young men to say so. It would be fine to get with Cushing if possible, but you must not work too hard to injure your health. Your health is before everything.

Pa is beginning to feel more like quitting every trip he makes. We are both feeling more like it all the time. Foolish to work any longer. Would rather he did not go to Portland if it could possibly be avoided. It is a long trip out there.

We went to Smallwoods. Thought we might sell our range to them, but she is wanting something finer than a second hand range. She wants to buy a new one. She has got very fine furniture in her home, everything good. A great deal better than I started housekeeping with. I was always afraid of Pa getting out of work. They are not looking that far ahead. If Rufus happened to get fired he could have a lot of fine furniture to look at.

We have thought sometimes of selling all our furniture. What we could get for them and the cost of shipping them would buy quite a lot. What do you think about it. I think it would be better to get close to the hospital for the winter so as to be convenient for you.

What color is your suit. You had better not get any for Pa as he would hate to be bothered like you have been with tailors.…

Your loving Mother


September 28, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

September 28, 1910

Well My Boy,

…Well we are soon going to have to decide something definite about coming to Baltimore as the weather is reminding us of winter and haveing to get in awer fuel. It is somewat of an undertakeing to decide. But things seem to be looking clearer. I am rather inclined to delay the investments in Portland etc. until we find out more about it.…

We was talking this morning that if you went with Dr. Cushing to Harvard we would have to move again next year so you see how we figure. On the other hand it aught to be a pleasure for us to move when it is for your advantage.

You say that you begin to get $40 per month. It looks like a bad break to make. To depend on $40 when we now have $160 but yours is only the beginning but mine is the finish and limit.…

Your affectionate Father


October 1, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

October, 1910

My Dear Son,

…Papa has just gone to make another trip tonight. He was pretty near ready for Baltimore. This morning he was not quite so sure about it. He said if these new engines were fine and he got on the Limited he might stay longer. I said all right just work as long as you want too and I'll work too. If I haven't worked long enough and you haven't worked long enough, just let us keep on working till you are satisfied. I said I am not going to beg and try and make you quit. You just go ahead and work as long as you want too. Then you will have plenty to leave behind you. He says I just want you to say you must quit, you can't work anymore. I said I won't do it. He changes so often that I get tired persuading him and I think the other way works better. Of course he has a good run and sometimes he thinks a pity to give it up. I don't want him to work on an engine this winter. He ought to have the rest and comfort he has earned.

He was talking to Foraker on the street one day. He (Foraker) said not many would give up a good job like you have. Polly has not been around for some time and I have not been there. She does not care for us going there now. I don't think the mother will stop off at Baltimore. I am glad she will be home before we leave.…

Well I got my new suit, a navy blue one. I think it will look very nice. Cost $21.53. Wasn't that a lot for a dress. Now I want a hat to match.

How are you getting along with your research work. Is that dog still alive you operated on.

Try and write to Robt Williamson as soon as you can. He will be very anxious for some word from you. He might not last long, so please write as soon as possible to him. I wrote to them as soon as I received their letter and told them I had sent the letter to you.

Well the strike is still on.…

Connie Doyle has been off sick. He was in the hospital. The doctors say he has kidney stones and an operation would mean death. Pa told him to write to you. I did not know there was such a thing as kidney stones.

Your loving Mother


October 5, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

October 5th, 1910

My Dear Son,

…Papa is particularly glad to hear of the prospects of getting the A.M. Hope you get it. You will be disappointed in not getting a letter from Papa this time as we went to the fair yesterday, stayed all day. He had just a couple of hours to eat and then go out on his run.… We had a nice day at the fair, everything just about the same as other years. We saw one of those flying machines go up. It was quite a curiosity.

I suppose you saw in the paper where Norman McDonald was dead. It is pretty sad to be taken away so young as he was. And the saddest part of it was that he was not a Christian. I think in health so many neglect the one thing needful, and in sickness too sick to think much about it. It is blessed to have Christ all the way as our Comforter and Friend. We need Him every day, every hour, and a great deal more in sickness and death. He is a Friend that sticketh closer than a Brother, never leave his own untill He brings them safe into Glory, and then to live and reign with him through all eternity.

Well we have decided to come to Baltimore. I am getting anxious for Pa to quit. I feel he has worked long enough and it is not necessary for him to work for the purpose of accumulating wealth.… He is quite willing to quit now and thinks he will be quite satisfied. He said the other day we will not have as much money coming in every month, and I said what would you want with it or do with it, only put it away. You don't want to keep working for the sake of putting it away. I said you have always looked forward to the time you could live without working and now you can do it. He says that's a fact, so we have decided to come if the Lord will.

We don't know whether to fetch our furniture along or not. It would come in very useful for sitting room and a dining room, but I think I would like new furniture for a parlor. Maybe they have nothing but dining room and my furniture is not good enough for a parlor. If they have no sitting room I would have too many rockers. I have got a lot of old comfortable furniture but not very nice. Pa asked about freight rates. They are shipped by the 100 lbs. $1.30 per 100 lbs. Let me know if furniture is high there. We could furnish pretty near a house 5 or 6 rooms for $200 from Sears & Roebuck. Do they furnish the houses nice there? Let me know. Tell us what you think.

Polly came down the other day. She was bragging about her fine cakes. She thought of baking some for the fair. It was too late when she thought about it. She never said come out and try my cooking. She said you had got very fat. She doesn't think she would get fat no matter what she ate. She says you don't need a wife. She says a doctor doesn't progress much after he is married. (I thought and some not before it.)….

Your loving Mother



P.S. Don't get shed for auto. We want to get one this winter, and they might sell the house before we got one. Pa was looking at the autos yesterday. Some fine ones there at the fair.


October 10, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

October 10, 1910

My Dear Son,

…Well Papa has just gone to make another trip. I believe he is quite satisfied to quit and go to Baltimore. We went downtown the other night and saw a beautiful plush coat in the window. It was $32. He thought he would work an extra trip or two and buy me some nice clothes. I want to get either a suit or a coat. They are wearing the coats a good deal. Pretty near to the bottom of their dresses. Let me know which is worn most there. I must get one before I go.…

We have not decided on any particular time to get to Baltimore, sometime before Thanksgiving if the weather keeps nice.… Pa says he would not board and I have no desire to board, rather have your own home. I think if everything is the same for you we might as well live in the suburbs. I guess we will have to board a week or two. That will be as long as we will care to board.

I think Mrs. Dusenberry will take the range. She does not know whether to build or not. If she doesn't she wants our side of the house. She has been married 30 years and she has only saved $430. She says if Dusenberry had married some women he would not have had a red cent.

I felt sorry for that poor professor that you mentioned, out of a job and especially when you had anything to do with it. I hope he gets back. If you could do anything to help him get back I believe I would try and get him back. He was so nice to you, regardless of what you had said or done. Maybe he could do better if he had another position.

I guess we might as well sell our lamps. Do they use gas altogether?.…

Your loving Mother


October 10, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

October 10, 1910

Well My Dear Boy,

…And I feel sorry for the dog you operated on and will be glad to hear of his recovery and your ability in unknown and untraveled paths in surgery and…it will not be long till I see you do some of your work providing I can stand to see it.

As I now feel satisfied to come to Baltimore Mama thinks we could stay here till Thanksgiving. I have just rote letter for passes. That is the first step toward coming. I think you will feel now like I did when Mama said yes she would come. I had often asked her to be mine and thought lightly over it, but when she said yes responsibility commenced, and I almost wished I had not asked her. But we have got along well through it all and have no cause for regret. And I trust the next move will be the same.

However, I have not got the nerve to say that I will quit although I think I shall never come back to work for the Katy. I don't think we shall be at Baltimore by the first of November. Yet we should be their as soon as we can for fear of cold weather moving etc. I will keep your letters from Seattle and we can refer to them when we come. I think eather Baltimore or their is preferable to Sedalia for investments.…

Your affectionate Father


October 25, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

October 25, 1910

My Dear Boy,

Got your letter this A.M. and I trust you will excuse me if I don't say much as we have been busy today washing and washing and stretching curtains.…

The weather here is ideal. Makes me think I aught not to quit for awile especialy since the new engins are here.… Will be able to try them in about one week from now or sooner if they break in good. But Mama scolds me if I talk like this. So I think wether the engins are good or bad I will come and spend the time with my boy.

I hear that Sears & Roebuck has bought all the 1910 modles of the Buick automobile not sold and letting $1200 machines go for $400. You might write and see if they have got Chambers or Catalac [Cadillac]. Dillon says the Catalac is the best. I got another letter from Carsteens and Earles of Seattle with some good looking bonds etc. I have got awer pass or rather part of it. Got it from St. Louis to Parkersburg but from Sedalia to St. Louis or Parkersburg to Baltimore is not come. I asked the cleark about it. He thought the other would be here soon.

Don't you think we had better get a house for the winter in the city and rather convenient for you. Then when we get their could look for one in subberbs for summer time.

Your affectionate Father



Pa is always washing when he writes to you. He likes an excuse so as to cut short.


October 28, 1910

Baltimore, Md.

October 28, 1910

Dear Mother and Father,

Well, it seems a long time since I left home and it's only a month and a half. Everything fine here, getting along nicely at research, and feeling fine and glad you are same.

Well, I am expecting to see you here soon now. I think the best thing is for Mama to say, "You can't work any more," because that would settle it and you know who is the boss around that house.

Glad you got a new dress and glad it was blue. I think they are the prettiest colors, look the richest. Wish you would quit that wash day excuse and tell me some railroad news, how your runs are, how near on time, etc.

Today was Class Day, which gets pretty tiresome as it lasts so long.

I think probably it would be better to live in town this winter-although on the other hand it would be harder to get a good suburban house in spring when everybody wants them. I wrote to Mr. Williamson a week ago and told him all I could.

In regards to Doyle's kidney stones, the operation is very common here, and by no means a fatal one, but very successful, much like gallstones.

Am doing a good deal of operation work on dogs. Operated on two private dogs this week. Removed a tumor from one and took out ovaries from the other. Get $2.50 apiece but it goes to the laboratory and not to myself. Have another dog coming from Washington to be operated upon for a hernia or rupture. Operated on another dog's vein of Galen way down in center of head as I told you before, is living and doing nicely.

Dr. Cushing is out of town, went to Boston. One of his best men is now out of the way I think and another going, so if that should be true I would be second man on his list which would be fine. He treats me fine, is very enthusiastic and gives me absolute authority and complete charge. He is so busy operating he doesn't get around much now when in town.

Took a nice long walk in country Sunday. There is some beautiful country around here and excellent automobile roads for miles and miles.

Well, I think I am about out of news, so will close for the present.

Your loving son, Walter



P.S. Having nice warm weather, too warm. I wrote to Sears, Roebuck to see about the Buick machine. I knew they had an oversupply, but had not heard of the sale but have heard since you mentioned it. Am sure they will not have Chalmers or Cadillac.


October 31, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

October 31, 1910

My Dear Son,

…You are making quite a little operating on dogs and quite a success. I am very pleased to hear about your A.M. and also of those men getting out of your way. I hope it is true. What are they going to do and where are they going. Let us know if you hear anything more definitely about them going. Pa says you will either go to Boston with Dr. Cushing or take his place at Hopkins. Either is pretty good. He has no small opinion of you.

When will you have finished your research work. I am anxious to know and hope it will be a success.…

I got a blue hat to match my suit. It looks very nice.$7.50 pretty good price for a hat. I could not find one I like, I had them make this one.…

Your loving Mother


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