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.

December 26, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

December 26, 1908

My Dear Boy,

Just got your nice Christmas present and must say that although we never expected or needed anything we truly appreciate them and thank you for your consideration. Mama will use these instead of the witefooted ones and she is going to get me a nice new shirt to display my ties on.

Well I spent a buisy day packing your box, etc., and since then got jacked up often for not putting in knives, forks, etc. and for packing box with poor paper etc. although the boss was superintending the work. So if I get the blame for all the bad things about the box, I surely should get the creadit for the good things. So if the eating and drinking is good you can thank me for it (and not Mama) as I was silent partner in both cases.

Well in regard to the watch I scarcely know how to advise you. It certainly breaks often. I don't think I would spend much more money on it if you could get the price of the case for it. You would do well to sell it. Perhaps it would be best to get what you can for it and I will get me one and let you have your own. I will leave it with you. What you do will just suite me. I can get one like yours for about $32 with 25 year case.…

Well we are anxious waiting an account of your lecture on the embryo etc. And I trust you done as well as on your validictory speach.…

Your affectionate Father

My Dear Son,

…I hope you got your box and that everything was fine and what you wanted. Let me know how everything was how you liked them. Let me know how you liked the oatmeal cookies. I got receipt from Polly. She got it from Minister's wife. She makes them to sell. Dr. Cole says he could make a meal of them, so I thought I would send you some. Papa thinks they are fine.

I hope you will enjoy your holidays and get a rest from hard work. I don't think I would sell the watch for much less than the case cost as I think you could use that case on other works.…

Your loving Mother


December 29, 1908

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

December 29, 1908

My Dear Son,

…We were both delightfully surprised in getting a present from you as we did not expect anything. I had a good laugh when I saw the stockings. They are fine but 35 cents per pair is rather much for mine. I like them and appreciate them because of the one who sent them. Papa's ties are fine. He was just tickled over them.… He says he would like to buy you one of those dress suits so as you would not be behind any of them.

Which of the professors invited you? I would have liked you had gone. Did you have a very fine dinner at Dr. Mall's? Is his wife a nice woman?

Polly B. and the mother came up Xmas eve and fetched me a Xmas present. A handkerchief holder. First they had given me in 5 years. They stayed a few minutes then went to the Christian Church. Polly had on her Xmas presents. She got a beautiful gold necklace and pendant and beautiful gold bracelet-the mother's present. The necklace cost $12 and the bracelet $8.75, and she bought her a jewelry box and toilet set brush and comb. These are the things that Polly wanted. She would have liked a diamond ring but she did not get any. Mr. Foraker bought her a handsome gold necklace and pendant. But they were vexed at him for buying jewelry for her. Polly was mad and said she would give it back as he had no business to buy it as she could not wear anything like that from a young man unless she was engaged to him. So she gave it back to him. And he said he would get her a piece of cut glass instead. Papa said if a girl would return anything like that to him he would feel like slapping her.

Foraker goes with her all the time and stays and has supper every Sunday night. The mother came up Sunday evening and stayed till 9 o'clock. She said Foraker would take Polly to church and fetch her home. At supper she said she ought to go home for Polly would be there with Foraker and she would have to get him something to eat.

She says Polly can't wear jewelry from young men. Of course she says it was different, that breast pin and buttons you gave Polly as that was friendship. She says Polly is crazy over that pin you gave her and is afraid of losing it.

Dow sent her a card. Polly sent you one. If you haven't already sent her one I would do it as it would look better. Annie Craven sent me a nice little card. Gornals went to Kansas City, took a box along. Gornal would rather lay off anytime, not work.…

Your loving Mother


January 1, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. January, 1909

My Dear Son,

…You did not tell me what I could tell Mrs. Williamson about her hands. Please let me know if anything can be done for them. I want to write to her.

I want to know also how you can get along about getting your grades when you won't have anything to do with that Prof. you had the quarrel with. Wasn't he one of your teachers. I want you to tell me this. Glad you did not have any further trouble with him. Does he feel ashamed of himself. Maybe he will try to do better.…

Mrs. Caton is going to be married today to a farmer near Green Ridge, I am glad to hear of the poor woman getting a home. That is what most people now-adays getting married for (J.D.-She was not guilty of this). She came over to bid me goodbye last night.

When you get your research work completed do you get grade standing or an A.M. or what. I am glad you like teaching. Dr. Cole thinks you will be a Professor, and he thinks a position as Professor is fine.…

Your loving Mother


January 1, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. 1909

My Dear Son,

…Glad to hear you still hold your own in weight. When you come home in the summer I want to add about 14 lbs more to that 146.

We called at B.'s when Papa was laying off. She told us about two men trying to get into the cellar. She hollered at them and turned on the lights and they ran away. Polly was terribly scared. They got Walter Jakeman to stay all night.

She says Stanley's work is hard. She is not so sure now that it is all for the best that Stanley is at Cole Camp. She says time will tell whether it is or not. I don't believe Stanley and Schwald are getting along as well as they thought they would do.

She said she would ask us for supper but she had nothing to eat. Papa said what are you going to eat Polly. She says scratch up something. He says come up and have supper with us.…

Your loving Mother



Mrs. B. says Papa is too young a man to quit work. He is feeling fine. Says he never felt better in his life. I think we will go to England for a visit this summer.


January 5, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

January 5, 1909

My Dear Son,

…Was glad you enjoyed everything so well, and that you had a nice time. I am glad everything was good, but I don't believe you would let me now if it wasn't good. When did the box arrive?

Papa went up to Engineer [Street] to catch the mailman yesterday morning. Could not wait till noon but there wasn't any from you. It came in the afternoon after he had gone. He has been very anxious to hear about that lecture you had to give the anatomists, and you never said a word about it. I don't believe it is Papa needs jacking up, it is somebody else.

I was glad you went to that reception, would have liked to have seen you in full dress. How did you look? I would have liked to have heard all particulars about it. What good things you had to eat and how you were entertained. It is a wonder a borrowed suit would fit.

I have just been to see Mrs. Gornal. She is sick in bed. She had Dr. Cole. He said she had plurisy. Came pretty near having pneumonia. She was tickled about getting a card from you. Gornal is doing the cooking and work and looking after the boarders. She is some better today.

Mrs. B. and Stanley came up Sunday, stayed a few minutes. Stanley has got to be local surgeon for the Pacific at Cole Camp.… He gets a pass over the road. He was very proud about it. He says it is a hard life, country practice. A man can't last over 10 years at it. One of the Cole Camp doctors has consumption and is going to Mexico, and he says Schwald has an awful cough. He says he came home one night wet through, had to take his flannels off and wipe himself. He says Schwald has $2,000 on his books to collect. He will have a hard time to collect it I should think. Stanley says he is going to stay 10 years, then buy a farm. He wants to make some money now.

Ervie's wife came with the milk the other morning. She said Mrs. Meyers had been telling her that we wanted to buy this place. She said Ervie wanted to buy a place and she wanted to know how much we wanted for it. I told her I would find out and let her know. Papa says he will take $900 for it.…

I had a letter from my sister Mrs. Williamson. She says she is still greatly troubled with her hands sleeping. If you can find out any remedy let us know and I will write her. She says my brother's wife's sister died in South Africa with 4 hours sickness with what the doctors called a floating kidney. Do you know anything about what would cause that? She was to have been married at Easter.

I am very glad to hear you go to a bible class. Hope you will go every Sunday.

Glad to hear such compliments over your model. I thought you were on the list to speak. But we never heard whether you did or not. Would Dr. Mall pay you if you stayed to help him? Could you get an internship this summer, or not until you graduate?…

Your loving Mother


January 6, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. January 6, 1909

My Dear Son,

…Somebody stole 3 or 4 of my chickens this Xmas. They took the nice little black hen, a mate to the little white one that layed so early.… I sold six old ones and the rooster and have only 15 now and we are trying to keep them in our own yard.

Winner is working out in the shops sharpening saws. $60.00 per month.

We just got our new phone in today.… Don't have to do any turning.

I am glad the lady you room with is so kind and nice. She is very kind to darn your socks and give you little things.

Don't forget to say how good that butter is. Hiram said his wife said it was quite an honor to send her butter to Baltimore. And the two little mince pies is Mrs. Gornal's and she will want to hear how you liked them.

Tell us all the good news, what they thought of your model, and if you gave them a picture of it. If you don't, I will tell Papa to not give you any railroad news.

Mrs. B. says the doctors are not so busy at Cole Camp and they are not doing very much in Sedalia. Well I will close wishing you a bright New Year.…

Your loving Mother


January 6, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

January 6, 1909

My Dear Boy,

…Read your letter and glad you had good Christmas and liked the wine, as I think I done most work on it but Mama as usual gets the credit for all good things.

I did not get very much information on the lecture on the embryo. Theirfore you can't expect much railroad news from me today as I am sleepy and mean today on account of hard trip in a good old blisard with poor coal to do the work with lost time both ways. When we got in Parsons, the officials O'Herin, etc. was after us like blood hounds would be after murders. We lost 22 minutes on run from Nevada. She could not get in siding for freight train car broke down on freight train at St. Paul. We had to go through side track. Coming back had strong cold wind, lost 15 minutes on run. The trip before had nice easy runs, made up 25 minutes. It was as nice a run as when you was on.

I hope you will go and see Taft inaguarated.

Well we have not sold the house yet but think we will after payday. I will try and sell 15th also. Then we will not have any entangling alliances to hold us here. I am beginning to think we have worked about long enough. And feel certain that you will soon be able to make good and have lots to spare. Consequently no use to work.…

Your affectionate Father


January 11, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

January 11, 1909

My Dear Boy,

…In regard to me holding my temper when Mr. O'Herin comes around when late. It is just his way. He don't mean anything by it. He is just over anxious about the runs and especialy since he was hurt at that wreck. It seems it as deranged his nervous system. We all think the world of him and I believe he does the same of us.

The morning you refer to there was some ice on engine steps and when I was about to get on engine he says (after jacking me up) be careful and not hurt yourself on that ice. Of course I can not retaliate with the same ease and ability as you can because I have not got as much Irish or Mama in me. I know now that you take after her.

I certainly would have liked to hear you roast that 2x4 Proff and I would suggest you follow him up and make him back up for his insolence to you. You see what Dr. Mall says about it.

I have been looking at Sears and Roebuck catalogue in regard to repairs to watches and they seem to do work much cheaper than others. They claim they will advise you if it is worth repairing and its cost and hold it waiting your instructions. If you concluded it was not worth fixing, I would have them put me some good works in the case and send it to Sedalia and I would send yours to you or you could have it come to you as you think best. The works in your watch that you have now is not worth over $4 new. Your case should be good as they are guaranteed. So you can use your own judgment about it. I can get works like the one in your watch that I have now for about $24. I think you would feel humilated wearing an Ingersole and I think you deserve one of the best in the world for being valedectorian in Sedalia and I think you have one here and all you have to do to get it is ask for it and let me get another so do just as you think best. I have the money for a new one if you think best.

You want to know if I am going to quit this coming June. I refer you to the Boss. She has arrived at the conclusion that we stay here till you graduate.…

Your affectionate Father


January 12, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

January 12, 1909

My Dear Son,

…Say I forgot to tell you that the electrician who accused me of indifference when you were here and you wrote that scorcher has got canned. I think you put a nail in his coffin in your letter. I believe the chief clerk suspected you of answering that letter as shortly after he got it he asked me if you had got away yet. You had better give that insulting professor one just as hard. Let me hear results.…

Your affectionate Father


January 19, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

January 19, 1909

My Dear Boy,

Got your very interesting letter yesterday. Glad to learn that you desposed of your trouble with that little Proff in such a diplomatic manner as I am satisfied you got the best of the treaty as I don't think you need reciprosity with anything as small as him.

Say it begins to look as though you should have a triple alliance in that Keeble, Mall anatomy text book. It would look good to see Dandy, Keeble, and Mall. You must tell us more about your latest discovery under the miscope [microscope]. Will you get credit for that? Or will Mall? Did you ever find out anything about that A.M. for your embryo.…

Your affectionate Father


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