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.

November 1, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

November 1908 (Thanksgiving)

My Dear Son,

…I don't see how you get along without so much sleep. Let me know how much you weigh now. I will have an idea then how you are feeling. Let me know if you are still getting good board.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I wish you could have been home so as you could fill up. Can't even have our boy at Xmas. Well I will try to send you those things you like best. Let me know what kind of pie you like best, pumkin or mince meat.

I did not have to jack Papa up this time. As soon as he got your letter he made a run for the paper.… I sent my 25 cts shoes to Coontz to sew and he charged me 35 cts, more than the shoes cost me. Papa had a great dream about you the other night. Dreamed you got married. I said weren't you mad at him. He said no, but I was awful sorry for him for he looked ashamed and miserable.

Eva Lewis is clerking in Guenthers store. Young Guenther fetches her home pretty often. The mother and Jennie is tickled over it. I made two calls the other day, Kate and Mrs. Lewis's.

Let us know if you get nervous before your operations and if you like the work.…

Your loving Mother


November 9, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

November 9, 1908

My Dear Son,

…I have not seen any of B.'s since we were down. I would think it was a very disagreeable job that Stanley has, often called in the night times to go out in the country over rough roads and don't know the way. It will be tough in winter time. Schwald will give him all the disagreeable work.…

Mrs. Hayes called the other day. She is selling [?] treatment. She has used it for nearly a year and she is pretty near well. She says she don't know where she would have been only for it. She says that I did not use it long enough to effect a cure. I believe you thought you rubbed long enough to kill or cure. Do you remember the rubbing you used to do on my back. I believe I am through with those patents. I am feeling fine. Don't need anything but something to eat.…

Gornal hasn't started to work like the dickens yet. He seems to be afraid to go out…bad conditions. He hasn't worked for over a month.

You did not tell us how you got the 3 week appointment in New York next summer.

Papa said he was afraid to send the Appeal for fear it would take your time to read it when you had so little time.…

Your loving Mother


November 10, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

November 10, 1908

My Dear Boy,

…We had 2 wrecks between Franklin Junction and Parsons last week account of broken flanges on car one. As she was coming into Pleasant Green she put 6 or 8 cars all over the passing track and main track.… There is about 10 cars piled all over. Three are nearly out of the right of way. We have to go slow by these places in addition to others so it takes up lots of time. The freight men are still in pool and very short of engines. All the good ones go to Texas. The consequence lots of failures. We got lots of delays last round trip.…

You had the nicest trip we have had for some time. I think it would pay to have you with us all the time. We had 2 young expert machinists from Philadelphia with us about 2 weeks ago. I think they were working for the Big 4. They had passes and permits from O'Herin to ride on Engines. They came and rode with us, one rode from Nevada to Fort Scott, the other from Walnut to Parsons. The engineer riding behind the electric headlights said they don't have them East as they interfere with approaching trains on double track. They had been to Baltimore and considered it a nice town.

Well I was downtown the other day and Mama primped me up and put me on a stick pin that I think is far to nice for me so if she will let me I will send it to you as I don't know anybody that it would look so well on.…

Well I think I had better close and if this don't satisfy both Mama and you as far as quantity is concerned I shall request her for an apropriation for a stenographer as I shall not be able to keep up this lick without laying off and I know she will make many concesions before I would loose $16 for that trip.…

Your affectionate Father


November 16, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

November 16, 1908

My Dear Son,

…Well Papa has just gone out at 4 P.M. Did not write this time-said to tell you he had to help to wash and other things so you would have to excuse him this time but all he did was to help to wring a pair of pants. He always manages to fish up an excuse. I am afraid you will think I am boss if I insist too much on him writing.…

Saw B.'s downtown. Yesterday we were in Bondi's store and they came in. Foraker was waiting on me and Polly said I wish you could hurry I want to get a silk waist. There was other clerks but I could see she wanted him, so then she went to one of the others. They could not suit her. She came up as I got through. You ought to have seen the sweet looks she gives him. Papa noticed it too. So he told her to come and he would show her some and if he hadn't he would order her one. She wanted a green silk waist. Papa says she try to flare around and show off. I am telling you this because you heard her say she didn't like him. I am very much mistaken if she doesn't like him.

Mrs. B. talked of going to Cole Camp today to see Stanley. Poor woman can't talk of much else but Stanley.…

We are delighted to hear about your work. I would think you would not need to go to N.Y. for Obstetrics. You would get all that is necessary where you are. Nice to know you can get work there if you want it. I hope you get your embryo finished. I want to hear and read what you write up. I think it will give you a great name before those big men. You want Papa to tell you railroading. We want you to tell us about your work and all the compliments you get.

I have 2 suits of overalls to make. I tell Papa that is the last. No more 2 years, one year now.

Soon be Thanksgiving and then Xmas. The little white hen is sitting. Pa has a great time breaking her off sitting. He says he would not take $2 for her.…

Your loving Mother


November 25, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

November 25, 1908

My Dear Boy,

…Just received and read your short letter and will state that I excuse you for not writing long letters when you tell me you have other duties to perform and I think you should be lenient with me when I have to help Mama wash, etc.

Well awer greavance committee has been before the company for the last 2 months. Had very stubborn times with them. Neither would concede anything. They finally consented to have the Labor Commissioners settle the disputed matters by arbitration. They meet about one week from now. The 4 orders were all in concerted movement to compel the company to live up to the agreement known as the Chicago Agreement which was made about 2 years ago. Our road withdrew from the General Managers Association and now doesn't want to live up to or be bound by that agreement. I look for favorable terms from Labor Commission.…

Well if I have any say in the matter, your Christmas present will come as per your request. How would you like me to look for them for you instead of Mama? I don't think you would like them as well. Well I fooled her this time. She can't jack me up for I am writing first. She is busy making me some more overhauls. These are the last she is going to make me. I have to quit when they are done. But she got me some good material to make them. I guess she wants them to last a long time.

You don't tell us how you felt when you where cutting the Negro's scull for tumor or the woman's finger.

I was reading in the Worlds Work for Christmas about a fine operation in New York, taking blood out of father's leg into the dead child and restored life to the child. Also an interesting account on oysters. I don't think they will injure Mama and me much as we have not had any for years.…

Take good care of yourself. Don't do more than your constitution will stand for regardless of the results and the honor that you might achieve from to close study. I like to hear of honors but I like my boy better.

Your affectionate Father


November 30, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

November 30, 1908

My Dear Son,

…Thanksgiving was very quiet here. We had some roast pork for dinner that I bought of the butterman. He has not been fetching me much butter lately. I believe I will have to quit him. Mrs. McVey has moved on a farm, and she wanted to know if I would take butter of her regular. She makes fine butter. I have concluded to take of her.…

Mr. Bard phoned the other day to see if Papa would stop at some water tank and let him and his wife off as they were going to hunt. She phoned after to say he could not get his wife to go, but Papa had gone, so he gave Papa a nice little lead pencil for his trouble.…

He will probably write to you and give you the railroad news. I will leave that for him to tell as he can do it better than me. We called about your charm. Mr. Bard was not in and the others did not know anything about it.…

Your loving Mother


December 1, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

December 1, 1908

My Dear Boy,

…Well, I got my despotic instructions from the little queen of 1323 E. 5th Street that I must write to her boy at once. I am going downtown so don't be disappointed if I don't tell you much.

We have been having lots of rain south and also here. Washouts and high water south. Many places on south end reminds one of going into Galveston. Water on each side for miles.… Had only 8 cars last night and could hardly make the turn. Engine did not steam good account of poor coal. And the same was last trip with 9 cars. Lost 6 minutes from Parsons to Sedalia but just managed to make it to Franklin Junction.

Well I am shy on news but I have some money so will send you $50 which I think will look as good to you as news, and is far more potent factor as purchasing agent.

Say I heard some news the other night that confirms my opinions of you and your Mama's also. I was deadheading to Franklin Junction Thanksgiving night on the excursion train run for the benefit of the Kemper School to play ball at Sedalia. Got in conversation with one of the teachers who came and sat beside me. His name was Powell. He said he graduated at MSU [Missouri State University] when you did or rather should have done but was shy a little in his studies. Had to complete them in the summer. He said I was the father of a bright and promising young man. He said you cleaned up everything in the shape of honors in the MSU. He wished to be remembered to you. He is thinking of getting a position with the government as linguist.

I will send you this week's Appeal. It has a good article in it in reply to a priest. Of course I know you don't have much time to waste on this kind of literature but it looked so good to me I thought you would get a change of ideas that might benefit you.…

Trusting your embryo will look good in its new colors and that your work on it will bring credit to you for many years to come and before it begins to grow dim you will find out something else that will keep you in the world's eye as one of its brightest lights.

Your affectionate Father


December 7, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

December 7, 1908

My Dear Boy,

…Our troubles with the management is postponed till the 17th in Washington, D.C. I see where the Katy has ordered 16 new engines for their new trains.

Well railroading is not very interesting to me. I like to hear embryology much better especially when my boy is so renowned in it. I think your father and mother will have to get iron bands made to go round their head to keep them from swelling. We could scarcely keep from weeping with joy over your success as we read your letter. I think that is far ahead of wealth and of alot more importance to a nation or its people. I would just like to show your letter to every one I meet especially the ones you are acquainted with. And when you get your work (on this matter) completed I shall get busy showing it.

Well I went and got you a box for Christmas but it is still empty. Mrs. Letts says if we fill it you will have no kick coming for Christmas presents.

I will enclose your letter from Bill Todd. He seems as much of a rounder as ever.…

Your affectionate Father


December 8, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

December 8, 1908

My Dear Son,

…It rejoices our hearts to hear good news of you. I think it is a great honor to have your name associated with such leading men, and you so young. Dr. Mall has certainly been kind to offer such an honor. I hope you will be able to get it finished. Don't forget to tell us all the good things and anything you don't want Papa to tell just say so. He would make a fine advertiser for you.

The first thing he did today was to take your letter to Mrs. Letts to read. She said to tell you she was proud of you but the letter was too much for her to understand. Then he took it to Battersbys for Polly to read. Polly said he ought to be proud of you. Then he took it to Dr. Morley. Morley thought you are great. He said he heard all about your record in Columbia. He said he took Miss Rhodes driving and she told him you were one of the brightest young men in Columbia, and Miss McGill thought there was nobody like you. He said you ought to be a teacher as he believed you were especially adapted for it and he thinks it far ahead of…surgery or practicing. He says it is going to be the coming part in medicine. He says he could not do it, but he does pretty well in practicing. He has got to be croner [coroner] and some other little office that helps him out.

Then he went to Mrs. Gornal, read it for her and she thought you were doing fine. He came home as pleased as if you had bought him another Silvereen suit.…

I say you did not say whether you received the $50 or not. Be sure and tell us when you write. Papa sent it in the last letter. Strange you did not say if you received it. I expect you have so much on your mind and in such a hurry to get it written you forgot to tell us.

Let us know also if you would rather have your box of chicken after the anatomists leave. I want you to eat it all yourself. They get plenty of good things at there home. I want you to have time to eat it as it will soon go stale. Don't forget to answer this question.

Are you wearing your new suit? And how do you like it? I get butter of Hiram Carter's wife. It is good. I sold 4 dozen eggs today, 30 cents per dozen.

Your loving Mother


December 14, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

December 14, 1908

My Dear Son,

…Papa was going up town this morning but he couldn't go till he got your letter, so he went at 10 o'clock to get it of the mailman. He came back rather disappointed at not getting it. Mailman said it had been thrown through mistake to another mail carrier, but he said he met Papa this evening and told him he had your letter and he said Papa was satisfied. He likes to get your letters and hear of something great that you are doing every time you write. He says every week well I wonder what our boy will tell us this week.

The last trip when he was going out he went into George Letts' office and he said George looked blue and melancholy. Papa said I see you are kind of out of sorts or melancholy. I am going to tell you some good news. But he says it is on my side. So he told him how you had carried all the honors in Mo. and you were leading them all the way where you were at and about your model. And when he got through George could hardly keep from weeping.… George said I do feel depressed and I will just tell you what is the matter and you would feel bad if it was you. He says that boy of mine, I don't know what to do with him. He is so careless and is doing no good at school and he says he is mean too. He knows I am particular for him to have good grades and I found out he had been deceiving me. He would go to the teacher and tell her he had lost his card, then she would give him another and he would fix it up to please the father. And he says he had 90 in pretty near all his grades and he said he had been feeling quite pleased over it.

Now he has found out Willis' schemes and he says he doesn't know what to do with him. He would like for him to go to Columbia. He thinks he will take him out for a while and make him work on the rip track.

We went downtown the other day. Called on Mrs. Smith coming back and they just made us stay for supper. Laura took Papa's hat and took mine off and pulled my jacket off. She said she wanted us to see how she could cook supper and she did it all herself and it was a nice supper. Papa says we are sure welcome there.

Then we went to a meeting in the Baptist Church. Papa said he came pretty near pewking with the smell of somebody feet. I was feeling much the same way.

I think Papa will be in Xmas day and next day so I think we had better send your box the 25 or 26. I want you to get all the good things up there before Xmas. Mine will do after. But you must not have 3 meals a day out of what I send you. You must have a good vegetable dinner. Mine will do for the other meals, whatever meal is the best there, have it. Don't try to save a few dollars by eating all your meals out of the box. Get underclothes and everything you need.

We would like to buy you a Xmas present, but we really don't know what you need and if you need anything. You know better than we do what you like.

Mrs. B. has not been here for a long time. She is queer to stay away so long. Papa calls in occasionally. She says Stanley is doing well and making plenty of money. You would think very little of Stanley's doctoring, but the poor ignorant class of people that he treats don't know any better. One family he went to lived in a hovel. When they got up in the morning they all washed in the same water in a bowl, then they threw the water out and made coffee in the same bowl. Stanley had breakfast but did not have any of the coffee. I think this is one of Stanley's excitable yarns.

Did Polly ever send you a card. Miss Stanley passes here pretty near every day. Bard said the party sent word they were going to send you a new charm. The young lady in Bards said she would send it as soon as it came.

Your loving Mother



It must be sad to see so many afflicted people. How thankful we that are well should be. Do you treat them free at the hospital and how do you get them? God bless you and keep you for Christ's sake.


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