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.

January 1, 1912

Glenanne, Bally Lane

County Armagh, Ireland

c. January 1912

My Dear Son,

…Was glad you was feeling good even if you had to work hard. But work is pleasent if you like the work you have to do and I have every reason to think you do. Dr. Cushing did not burden you with presents.…

People are beginning to plough and getting ready for spring. This county is rather hilly up one and down another. It looks nice to see large hills a few miles away and mountains past them…. We went to visit one of the national schools. The young man teaches it that goes with Maggie your cousin. And he gave us an invitation and we enjoyed it fine listening to them sing and dance and showed us samples of their work. It is just a little county school.…

I had a few minutes talk with one of the engineers on the passenger train that I rode on when we visited Warren Point. He said they where very strict with them, would not let them work with glasses, examined them every year and if anything was wrong with them they discharged them. I would prefer the States as far as I have seen as yet to work in. In fact so far to live in, but we have not given England a good try.…

Have you heard anything that would indicate wheir you will be next year? If you could get time to write up your articles they might open the way for something. Did Dr. Cushing's men ever discover anything adverce in your findings?

Your affectionate Father


January 3, 1912

Glenanne, Bally Lane

County Armagh, Ireland

January 3, 1912

Well My Dear Son,

…It must be sad and disapointing to the doctors to see people come in to have operations performed when they are almost dead. I was glad you made such a good guess on that womans tumor. To bad she did not come earlier.

You want to know about engines etc. here. I don't see much of them. I am more interested in farming. We are about 2 miles from the railway. We have been threshing etc today. Mama came and helped but not long. She soon got enough. I tryed to bottle straw but could not do it like the farmers.…

Did those people show you the flaw in your diamond. Maybe they where trying to work you. If you could find some one that wanted to buy one you might do better than selling it to broker or dealer.…

We took a long walk 2 days ago where they used to make turf on the bogs. I pulled some earth that I will enclose. And I will go and get you an Irish daisey as they are rather scarce at this time of the year.…

The people around here takes well with me and Socialism. They think it would be fine.…

Your affectionate Father


January 10, 1912

Glenanne, Bally Lane

County Armagh, Ireland

c. January 10, 1912

My Dear Son,

…Very pleased to hear you were first assistant. That is getting pretty near the top. I am looking forward to the time when Dr. W.E. Dandy will be the biggest man in the U.S.A.

Well Xmas is over. It was very quiet here. Hardly know it was Xmas. Got a few little presents, silk handkerchief, pocket book and combs. They are very kind here wanting us to stay longer. My brother says I am looking much better than when I came and for that reason I ought to stay a while longer.…

We have been out to tea very often. Yesterday we called on a friend in Newry. Stayed about 3 hours and we ate 3 times in that time. As soon as we went in we had tea and cake. Then we had a fine dinner roast meat, potatoes, stewed celery, and plum pudding. Before we left we had a nice tea again.

My brother's boy 14 years old was crazy for a wheel so Papa bought him one. Paid £3.50 for it. There is no place to good for it. He has it in the dining room.

They had a letter from their son in Boston. He has never said what kind of work he was doing. Said his master gave him $2.00 for a Xmas present.…



This place is where I was born and raised and the brother that I had the fall out with, but that is a thing of the past. They have never mentioned it.…

Your loving Mother


January 16, 1912

Glenanne, Bally Lane

County Armagh, Ireland

January 16, 1912

My Dear Son,

You seem to be having plenty of rich patients but none of them seem to be very liberal with their money. You have not had any money or presents from any of them. The rich takes care of their money as well as the poor. I think Cushing was not very liberal this Xmas. Is he still nice to you.

These Irish people are quite taken up with your Papa. They say he is the finest wealthy American they ever met.… Everybody says he is the finest man they ever talked too. The little ones here are very fond of him, also, and old women.…

We have been here 2 months and I feel I want to go back to England. They are very kind but I think we have stayed long enough.…

Your loving Mother


February 1, 1912

Glenanne, Bally Lane

County Armagh, Ireland

c. February 1912

My Dear Son,

…I think Maggie is going to get married in April to a school teacher. She was engaged to be married about a year ago to him but she broke it off and sent him all his jewelry back. She came home at Xmas half inclined to make up with him. I persuaded her to do so. They say he has plenty of money, between 4 and 5 pounds per week coming in. He is about 35 years old. She is 20. He was quite pleased to make up. So there will soon be a wedding. She wanted us to stay till after the wedding.…

Been to call on a school mate of mine that had been to California for 15 years and came home with plenty of money and bought a farm. But she does not like it here. She is sick to go back.…

Your loving Mother


February 18, 1912

89 Anson Street

Barrow in Furness, England

February 18, 1912

My Dear Son,

…It is to bad you can't get enough to eat without going downtown and spending $1 for it. But then we might reasonably expect this condition of things after loosing your mother. For it used to be her whole thought "What would be nice for Walter." But what or how will you do if she stays here.

She likes Barrow and we often go arround looking at nice houses that we think we would like to live in and own one for a home. Then we think awer money is all in America and left entirely to the discretion of others for investments. Besides it costs a little to transfer interest money about 80 cents on $22 and the most and greatest consideration to far away from awer boy.

The meetings are fine here. Mr. Robbinson and a young man named Hughs spoke last night. The young man was about your age. And I thought how nice it would be if you was doing by your profession what was good for mankind now. And teaching him what was good for him in the future. Mr. Robbinson was simply grand. He is a very deep teacher.…

Your affectionate Father


February 26, 1912

89 Anson Street

Barrow in Furness, England

February 26, 1912

My Dear Son,

Your letter received yesterday telling of the operation on the mans brain and useing part of dead childs brain instead of his own. Is he still getting along allright. If so it will be quite an advertizement for him. And a good lesson for you.…

I had a letter from Frank James, been lots of changes on the Katy.… The 5 and 6 men all kicking to merge 5 and 6 and 9 and 10 like I used to want them to do. So they need not dead?head. All change at Sedalia. They would not do it then and they won't do it now. So I think I got away in time.…

I heard a big Socialist last night from London giving account of the movement in Germany. 20 years ago they put them in jail and deprived them of work as soon as they found out they were Socialists. The Kaiser put all prominent men in jail and if a poor man was working someplace, the preist found it out and had him fired.…

Your affectionate Father


March 1, 1912

89 Anson Street

Barrow in Furness, England

c. Spring, 1912

My Dear Son,

Always glad when the time rolls arround to get your letter and I hope soon and to hear you say I have got it. Got the place you desired most. It is over 9 years since I heard those words how sweet they sounded in my ears ever since I have watched and waited for more good news. Never satisfied with all these years of hearing of your great success. Still wanted to hear more, more, more. Never satisfied, I guess till we hear of you being No.1 in the U.S.A. Not Cushing's equal but his superior.…

Glad to hear you had an offer from Detroit. Hope your way may be made very plain that you may make no mistakes in your choice. If you could get Cushing's place now couldn't you take general surgery, say next summer or some other time.

I surely would let my independence go if I could get anything out of Cushing by so doing. Independence is alright if a man can afford it. A man like C. can, but in the beginning of your career not much money not much notoriety or power. It is well to humble yourself if you can accomplish some good thing by so doing. I like to see you independent but not at the expense of loosing a good position. A word from him if he would favor you with a good recommendation aught to get you anything or any place if you can trust him to do so.…

We had a lovely walk through the channel yesterday to Walney.… When the tide gets out you can walk on a nice wooden walk. It had just cleared the walk or soon after we got there. We were between the two waters. It was lovely to see it on either side. Put me in mind of the children of Isreal walking through the Red Sea. Mountain of water on each side and a path prepared for them to walk through. They needed faith. It must have been trying thinking the water might rush back on them and be lost. Their faith was in the One who was able to take care of them and bring them to safety. What a great and loving God is ours. Let us not forget to trust in Him at all times.…

We have good meetings here. Last Sunday we went to three. They were fine. A preacher that had been 30 years in Spain was here. He was fine. It is nice to hear the old old story of Jesus and his love.…

Your loving Mother


March 1, 1912

89 Anson Street

Barrow in Furness, England

c. Spring, 1912

My Dear Son,

…Well this a beautiful spring like morning. Wish you could go out and have some exercise. I suppose you would just as soon have bad weather as good, as it is all work work with you, and you have to make good this year. You surely have got a grand opportunity having such great work with such a great man. Glad you get the chance to perform operations. I do hope you have great success in every operation you perform.…

This evening we are going to a Mr. Cranston's. He was a very poor man when we left, working for 25 shillings per week. But he went into the furniture business and made a fortune. They say is has 22 or 23 houses in this town and a nice home in Belfast. He has come back to Barrow to live and is now living in an elegant home on Abbey Road. He is paying one pound a week for it. He has come here to start his son in business. There is plenty of business in Barrow now. They say they have enough work in the shipyard to last 10 years.…

Your loving Mother


March 1, 1912

89 Anson Street

Barrow in Furness, England

c. Spring, 1912

My Dear Son,

…You say we don't give you much news. Well it is because we have not got it or we would surely give it to you. I need Mrs. Battersby or Mrs. Minnier to come in once in a while to give some news.…

We went to Mr. Gornal's funeral. We did not send Jim Gornal a paper or any word to him about his brother. They never answered our letter or card. For that reason I would not trouble to write to them. I am going to write to Annie Craven some of these days. I sent them a card from Belfast and one to Mrs. Battersby.…

I went to Gospel Hall last night and Pa went to hear the Socialist. So as I was coming home on Bath Street I kept looking for him like old times but he was not as quick to show up as of years gone by.…

Your loving Mother


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