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 14, 1912

27 Heath St.

Goldborn, England

May 14, 1912

My Dear Son,

…We have enjoyed it here more so than any place since we came to England. Their friendship is real, not put on. We have been here a week and they have persuaded us to stay another one. They take us to different places. They took us a drive in a Landau 6 seated conveyance to Weatherston about 6 miles.…

We are going this evening to see the factory. Mr. Seddon looks rather better than he did in America. Mrs. Seddon looks the same, a good honest hearted old fashioned woman. And Grace, I would not have known her. I had an idea she would have been fleshy, but she is thin, sharp features, soon get tired if she had much work to do. She says she is rather weak. She has a little lump the doctors call a tumor on her eyelid. It used to be red and larger and matter come out of it. It does not get well, but it is not so large as it has been. She rubs it every night with some salve. (What do you think it is.)

She is engaged to a young man. He was here Sunday. I don't think a great deal of him. Nor do Mr. and Mrs. don't care for him. He works in the coal mines. She seems as if she would be of a rather melancholy nature. They are all great spiritualists here. I enjoy hearing about these wonderful spirits. They have a little store and doing a pretty good business. They have saved quite a little money.…

I think we will leave here beginning of next week. They often talk about you here and old times. Grace was laughing and telling about you and her letting a piece of morter or rock fall on a niggers knee and cut his pants, when they lived in that hotel and the nigger came running in to get you.…

If I were you I would visit that lady. You would have a good time and that daughter of hers might make the best kind of a wife. Don't let the money make you dislike her. Get acquainted. She might be an excellent lady. You don't want a plain girl, you need a refined lady in your position. The middle class or what you would say pretty nice girl, seems to be rough, nothing much higher ambitions than the theatre. They go round in public places with their arms round one another. We often remark how bold and forward they are. Get acquainted with that young lady and see if you could like her. Never mind about her haveing so much money. If you have too much you can give it to me. Give her a chance to love you.

A spiritualist woman was telling us our past and future. She said you would stay in Hopkins and it would be better for you to stay there than go anywhere else.…

Your loving Mother


May 26, 1912

Southport

England

May 26, 1912

My Dear Boy,

…I especially want to hear of the man you performed brain operation on that you say is doing well, but still crazy.

You seem along time in finding out for next year but I feel everything is for the best and I am satisfied you will get Dr. Cushing's place at Hopkins. Pretty big expectation but I think you are equal to it.

Well this is certainly a fine place. Absolutely clean all over the city and crowded in the business district like Lexington or Fayette on Saturday afternoon. The subberbs are exelent. Air fresh and clear. Finest and richest looking automobiles all over the city. Mama says if you marry that rich young lady you could have anything you like in the shape of luxury in automobiles, fine residences, etc. etc. And if you took a fancy you could give us one if you did not need it as she has always room for more.…

Well we had a nice visit to Tarleton my birth place. And I got permishion from people living in old thatched house where I was born to look in it. It is not very enticing to live in it. Not as good as where you were born but all big things come from small beginnings.

I saw the little old school I got all my education in but it is not in use. Been supplanted by a more modern one. I met lots of old play fellows both boys and girls. Had tea and lunch with some of them. We certainly enjoyed the trip and the talks about childhood days. But everything is much improved. But how disapointed I was in measuring distances. Everything seemed so close together to what it used to do.

We went down to the canal where I used to try and swim and skate. And to the River Ribble, then along its banks to a little old shipyard where I used to go to play. Then to Hesketh lane by old Rope Walk where they used to spin twine by hand wheel but now abandoned. But all reminded me of my childhood days.

They are now building many new residences and as a whole good and prosperous conditions. Was informed they intended to run railroad from Hesketh to Tarleton and have arranged to build cotton factory as well. This should help to find lots of work for the people and boom property to such an extent that my old birth place will have to give place to one more up to date. If I had a surplus of money I would buy it just to keep as a reminder of former days.

I've noticed here yesterday that in some of the finest resedence districts old thatched houses keept in perfect condition I presume as keepsakes. You see I am selfish. I let the old 1323 E. 5th Street go where a better man than me or ever dreamed of by me was born. Well I think it better to look to the future and the present and I feel satisfied you are practical enough to attend to this and no doubt many things present themselves to you at the present time regarding your destiny especialy in the selection of your occupation. But I think your future path will be made plain as the time advances for the change.…

I will close with best wishes for the greatest success of this greatest boy on earth in my estimation. God guide you my boy.

Your affectionate Father


May 26, 1912

Southport

England

May 26, 1912

My Dear Son,

…This is the nicest and cleanest town we have ever seen in our travels. Pa says he would like to live here. Very swell folks come here. The dresses are elegant silks and satins and so tight they can scarcely walk. Young and old all dress in the latest style. When I was a girl, middle aged dressed old fashioned, bonet and shawl. Not anymore. There are all kinds of amusements around the beach and some very fine preaching. We listened to a woman suffergette yesterday. She kept up at great length. Very interesting to hear her flow of language.

Mrs. Seddon was sorry to see us come away. We stayed two weeks. We enjoyed it very much. We could see we were truly welcome…. Seddons are all rooted and grounded in spiritualism. I was sorry to see and hear that they would listen to such rubbish. It is wonderful that anybody with common sense would listen to it. Gracie has gone so far she can see spirits. She saw an old gray headed man standing at Pa's back one night and a bible in his hand and in letters of gold, to take the Bible as his guide. Pa spoke very plainly to them.

We had a nice time at Parbold but it was a farm and they were very busy and we did not stay long. They had 16 cows and 9 horses. They meet trains. They have lots of conveyances. We had two nice rides. Excursions go out there and they serve meals to them. It is one mile from Parbold. They are good Christian people. They wanted us to stay longer but we were in the way or at least I thought so.…

I expect you got my letter advising you about that millionaire young lady. I certainly would go and see them. She might be the finest in the land. These middle class girls don't seem to have brains for anything but dress and amusement. Don't give that

chance up except you have some better reasons than I think you have. Get acquainted before you pass an opinion. Don't be an old bachelor with such a chance in sight.

Your loving Mother


June 1, 1912

89 Anson Street

Barrow in Furness, England

c. Summer, 1912

My Dear Son,

…We are invited out to tea today to one of Pa's old sweetheart's. She has been married twice. Not much work going on here on account of the coal miners strike. I guess you have read about it in America.…

I am glad we lived in Baltimore a while. We can look accross the sea and imagine where you are. I would think if Dr. Cushing made you an offer for Boston with him it would be a good opportunity for you to make perfect or improve if you have not already arrived at this point. I hope the way will be opened up for you and that you may see what is best for you to do when the time arrives for you to choose what to do.…

We are having grand meetings in the Gospel Hall.… It is grand to know we are saved and sheltered beneath the blood. He says when I see the blood I will pass over you. What wonderous love for the Lord Jesus to come down from Heaven to suffer and die for poor sinners. Sometimes we are so much taken up with this world that we forget the better things.…

We are in the enjoyment of good health which is a great deal to be thankful for. Those poor afflicted ones you are looking after would give anything they possessed for good health.

Your loving Mother


June 1, 1912

89 Anson Street

Barrow in Furness, England

c. Summer, 1912

My Dear Son

I imagine you had a pretty hard year with poor food and Cushing's mean temper. But you are not dependant on Cushing for a job. You have got something he can't take away from you now, the training you have had this last year from him which I would think would fit you for his position in Hopkins. I would think if you had applied sooner for what you want you would have a better chance before they are all taken up. Now as Cushing has acted so small, I would try hard to beat him in his own work. I would try or apply for other places for fear you might not get Hopkins. It is no harm to be on the lookout and get such men as Dr. Mall to speak for you. Cushing will not do anything for you now. He could have been a good help in getting you a place if you and he had seen eye to eye.

But it is a good thing to stand up for the right. Sometimes we are the loosers by it among worldly selfish men. But we have one in heaven who sees all and is above all. One who holdeth the water in the hollow of his hand, can make sweetness come out of bitterness, can lead you in a way that seemeth rather dark but I believe will come out full of sunshine. Trust in Him at all times. In time of need, not knowing exactly what to do, look up to Him who is ever willing and ready to hear the cries of His children. We need Him at all times, and especially as to any doubt about our future. Of course, I believe in using every effort and trying to get the best that is possible to get.

Well I hope you will soon know just where and what you are going to do. So as you can enjoy your holidays and your mind be at rest. This is just your hardest time, the starting point.

Pa did not say anything to you about investing your money. I would say I would go very slowly in the matter as you don't have very much. It is risky. If the Democrats get in power everything is liable to go very low for some years. It is risky when you only have a little. If you were making plenty it would be different to run the risk, but you say you won't be making anything if you stay in Hopkins. This is not a very pleasant world to live in without money.

I had a letter from Mrs. B. She says Stanley came for 3 days to Sedalia. The doctors had a medical association. He had not been home for 3 years. She says that is being married. She says he is doing fairly well. As his father used to say able to keep the wolf from the door.…

Polly keeps up with her music. She wants to know when we are coming back. She says it is such a long time since we went away. Not much news there. She says all Gornal can talk about is the Titanic.

You ought to answer that millionaire lady's letter. Keep in with them anyhow. But I would still advise you to go and see them and see if you could like her if you married her. You could start a fine hospital (and beat Cushing), run it and use it for a good purpose. Do lots of good with it, not be afraid of the wolf getting in. I would like to see her picture. Be level headed. Don't get prejudiced. You ought to answer her letter by all means.

Your loving Mother


June 7, 1912

89 Anson Street

Barrow in Furness, England

June 7, 1912

My Dear Son,

I had not heard before that Debs had been nominated for President but of course I think they done right. I want to see him President of the U.S.A. regardless of Burger being his teacher in Socialism as I think him better man than his one time teacher.

And this reminds me of Dr. Cushing and you. He may have taught you but it won't be long till you surpass him and, instead of you chasing him for the chance to get to work for him, he will be watching the world give you the chief honor. You will be coming before the crowned heads and international Congress of Sciences as a leader of science and art. You started going in your chosen calling and it will have given you many advantages. You are still young and even now have the chance to become one of the biggest guns in your profession and even if that fails you have the chance to become a multimilionare by marriage.… Your father never had anything like this to select from. In fact never deserved it and will be well satisfied with life and its accomplishments if my boy gets the best. As that as always been my greatest ambition and even now with so many good and critical things to select from and decide on I think that whatever you do will be for the best. But I would advise you to be very careful in decision on these issues.

As sometimes good things come from unexpected places. The ancients said of Christ, "Can any good thing come from Nazereth?"

Your affectionate Father


June 13, 1912

89 Anson Street

Barrow in Furness, England

June 13, 1912

My Dear Son,

We have been anxiously awaiting your letter informing us of definite results in regard to your work etc. So we have just got it but still in suspence. The wheels grind slow when we are in a hurry but we still have the best to look forward for and expect you to get. Which I think must certainly have been manifested before you get this and I am satisfied it won't be long till I hear the repetition of old times, "the first place is mine" or "Mama I have got it." I once asked you before but you never told me what was your reason you desired to go into general surgery when you want to practice brain surgery.…

Well we had a good long talk over the rich young lady and you this A.M. after reading your letter. I was telling Mama that if you could cure crazy people for nothing or a few pair of socks you aught to be able to cure spoiled people for millions especially when they was young to work at. On the other hand you may expect to much of others. You can't make everybody see as you see. And you have often confessed that you was to particular. I think you get this trait from Mama. And she once nearly made a fatle mistake by it. You remember that "Bath Street deal." She realizes it now and in conversation this A.M. she said to me you write and tell him about that girl. You never tell him anything. But I am afraid that when she reads this she will say I have said to much especialy on Bath Street.

But however my boy laying all jokes aside you had better think carefully over this matter. It is only once in a life time you get this chance. And further she or her folks must be level headed or they would not want her to marry a poor man for what he was in ability rather than for what he has in wealth. These ideas don't come from spoiled people and while you have always been adverse to riches or rich peoples ways, it is easy to see how reluctently you will abandon it as it is hard to forget what we learn in youth and sometimes to our injury. But I trust you will let reason prevail in this as in other matters that interest you.…

Your affectionate Father


June 18, 1912

89 Anson Street

Barrow in Furness, England

June 18, 1912

Well My Dear Boy,

Your letter just received stating that Dr. Cushing had sailed and you not mentioned. Well you must remember you are not the first good man that was up against the Rubicon. If Rubicon it be it don't seem more then a stream to me that one day sunshine would dry up and make a pleasent path to cross over. All the big ones have met with rebuffs and still meet them. Very few people are exempt from them. The big kings and rulers of the earth are meeting them and sometimes from lowly quarters.

You delivered Dr. Cushing a solar plexus that he still remembers, evedently, or he would have been more gratefull to you. But it is no use to investigate in research if you are compelled to find things as he wants them instead of as they are. I think this work should be done with truth not for theory that is already established on false foundation. It is hard and very anoying to find out you are wrong and have built a house on theory and poor foundation that is destined for destruction before you have reaped the reward from it and especially if the one he has paid to help him is the one that shows him up. But if your theories are correct you have nothing to fear except the debarment of the privilege of demonstrating and this is what he is trying to do.

Of course you have never had much of lifes hard knocks and you feel these little ones. But don't be dishartened. There are many millions that would be glad of your opportunitys. I think the best in the world is ahead of you. Personally I never did think of late that you would go to Boston and further if he had been very friendly to you and offered you position in Boston you would not have liked to have published things that would have hurt him eaven if it did benefit you. So now if he as deserted you, you are under no obligation to him in that respect. I feel satisfied you will get his position in Hopkins at least if I understand right. There is no one else is their who can do it, Who is going to be Presedent of Hopkins. Has Dr. Halsted come abroad to look for man for Cushing's place.

Your affectionate Father



I see Mama says if you get married to bring your own motor car. Then I would suggest you would leave it for her and me. You get another more up to date.


July 12, 1912

89 Anson Street

Barrow in Furness, England

July 12, 1912

Well My Dear Son,

You see we have got back to Barrow. Our visit to the Isle of Man was very pleasent. Was their 3 weeks and was ready to leave. Everything crowded with visitors. We intended to stay till it was nice day to come back on so we would not be sea sick, but the Boss finaly decided that we had better go on Wednesday. Then of course it came pretty strong wind. Made the sea rough, but we had eat up about all our provisions and in this respect was in good shape to go. So decided to go regardless of the weather. The consequence was the "S.S. Vicking" rolled us arround very much and nearly everybody got sick. Except that good little sailor that got sick on the Atlantic.…

I was glad you was getting good rest while Dr. Cushing was away. And I hope you can perswade those millionares that it is esential that they should have a doctor with them to Yellow Stone Park. They might get sick, anyhow it would be nice trip for you. You would feel big in a private car.

I looked or expected you would tell us how the person you operated on got along, the one that came for Dr. Cushing after he left.…

Well I think my gold mine is going to come out all right.… I never had chance to marry millions but you wait till the mine gets down to good work. Then if you don't marry millions I may make you millions from the gold mine.…

Your affectionate Father


July 12, 1912

89 Anson Street

Barrow in Furness, England

July 12, 1912

My Dear Son,

…We are thinking some of going to Portland to live. I believe I like America better than England if it was not for crossing the Atlantic. I believe I am as good a sailor as Pa. He went round the bush telling about all being sick on the boat but he didn't tell you about himself being sick. He was the first sick on the boat and last one to be sick. I had a good laugh at him and I wondered if it was all imagination on his part. I was not sick at all. I kept telling him it was getting better and we would soon be at Fleetwood (3 hours sail to Fleetwood). We had some tea in Fleetwood and then we had an hours sail to Barrow. Pa was not on very long before he was sick again. I was afraid he would want the boat to go down. I was not sick at all. If I keep outside in the air I am alright. It is stuffy smells that get me most. The Vicking rolled terribly. Sometimes you would think she would hardly straighten up. I think Pa has got enough of sailing for a while. He is about tired of the seaside.

We had a nice place in the Isle of Man but it got so crowded I wanted to get away. We made friends with a young couple that had been married one year. They stayed a week and when they went home she sent us a piece of her wedding cake and a loaf of home made bread and invited us to come and see them.

I had a letter from Ireland. Hannah said Maggie was touring the north of Ireland with a lady. I expected she would have been married before this but I think it must be all off. She had been engaged to this man and had broken it off with him. She sent his ring and watch and bracelet back to him. When she came home when we were there I advised her to make up. He is a good man, a school teacher and plenty of money. Her father and mother was sorry she had broken it off. I talked to her. She seemed to think she would like to make up with him. He came up every week, brought her another ring and watch and chain and breast pin. And I believe it is all off again. The mother says he never comes to the house and she is gone with this lady. I think he was a little to old for her but I don't know what the trouble is.

Robert Williamson is still alive but getting very weak.

Have you heard any more from the millionaire.… Don't let the acquaintance drop on your side.… You never tell me what you think of my advice.…

Your loving Mother


Pages