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 30, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

January 30, 1909

My Dear Son,

…Well we have just got over a very severe cold blissard. It came the sudenest of anything I ever saw. At eight P.M. I went to sleep in bunk house with fine summer like weather. At 12:30 A.M. they called me with blissard rageing snowey and cold. The strongest wind I was ever in. I notified N.J. that engine 337 would not be able to make time on 5 against that strong cold wind. At Boonville agent came with message asking me if I would prefer the 284 or 473 to help me from Sedalia south. I told them 284 as she was passenger engine but they could not get her ready so I got the 473 to help us. But at Appleton City she got hot tank boxes. Had to stop and put in brass. Took 50 minutes in the cold strong winds so bad we could not keep torches light. After starting she got hot again and at Schell City we cut her out and left her their and went along to Parsons. Lost about 2 hours and 30 minutes on run. We done well alone considering the storm.

At Nevada they had figured on giving us another helper. But could not get one in less then one hour. I thought I could beat that alone. I lost 30 minutes on run from there. Coming back we had Curtis with engine 288 to help us. She did not steam very good, but done well otherwise. We lost 20 minutes on run. He says it is the hardest run to make he ever saw.

Mama says not to tell you about the cold spell. I presume she don't want you to know that she got left on its arrival as I had instructed her to always tell me when they was coming and I would lay off-that was once she was wrong.…

We don't understand what you mean in your letter when you state you had better graduate 4 or 5 times and drain awer pocket book. Does getting an A.M. mean graduating and how much will it cost. But understand don't let the cost bother you. We are only to glad to pay it.…

Your affectionate Father


February 13, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

February 13, 1909

My Dear Boy,

Got your interesting instructive and logical letter yesterday and am pleased to note from your enclosed letter that my desires are being fulfilled by your becoming a leader in your profession. We all truly have much to feel elated over your ability in your calling. It seems wonderful to me that a promenent professor should have to get permission from a student to use and conceede to the world that the student is his superior in this respect at least. You truly have cause to feel good over your success and life should be truly enjoyable to you account of your acheivements for life is not much unless awer desires can be attained.…

Your affectionate Father


February 15, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

February 15, 1909

My Dear Son,

I think Papa has covered all space in the way of congratulations and has not left much for me to say. I will say that it was a fine compliment and I don't believe you appreciate congratulations more than we do. Nothing gives us more pleasure than hearing of your success.…

He would like to show that letter you received to everybody in town. We were in the post office a few days ago. Mrs. Glen said she heard how well you were getting along. Mrs. B. came up yesterday. She had been to see Stanley again. She said there was nothing to do at Cole Camp. I said Stanley needn't care so long as he gets his money. She said Stanley liked to be busy. I guess he is afraid of losing his job and it is too bad the poor people don't get sick as to give them plenty to do.

I saw Mrs. Dow the other day. She said Johnny has lung troubles. She had him examined by three doctors and they all said he had consumption. She said Dr. Wood said he thought he could pull him through as he had cured 2 or 3 other boys. It costs $1 per day for treatment besides his other medicine.

We had a letter from May Todd. She wished to be remembered to you.

You will have it hard till after exams. I suppose you will be glad when they are over. Papa said you did not tell him about that A.M. he wanted to know about. We were amused about the sneezing affair. We could not understand how you kept from sneezing. I should think you won't be invited out anymore.…

The weather here has been like summer. People sitting out doors today.… Not be long till spring and hen sitting times.



Sometimes we think we will stay here till you graduate. Papa says if he went to England before that he would come back to see you graduate. But I say nay. Ervie and his wife is talking of buying this place so if they do we will have to move.

Your loving Mother


February 22, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

February 22, 1909

My Dear Son,

…We went to Mrs. Donnelly's funeral yesterday. When we got back he [Papa] had to go pretty soon to catch a freight. He took that letter you sent from that Doctor in Baltimore and showed it to Mr. Bard. He thought it great. Then Mrs. B. came up and he read it to her. She did not say much except that it was good.…

Tax collector Sullivan sent a card about taxes. You owe on that money you loaned out. It is $4. You find out from some of the lawers if they can make you pay for it. If so we had better pay for it. Papa don't like to ask here. Ask Ikenberry or someone and let us know.…

Your loving Mother


March 1, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. March 1909

My Dear Son,

…We have 15th to get clear of before we have a free hand. I believe we could sell it better if we were there. It won't cost much for furniture. I feel like I would rather stay here till you graduate. Of course things may show up later that we might not want to stay. We would like to be with you or near you, but I believe you would get along better with your work while you are studying to be apart. When you were at home you could not study very much. But I hope the Lord will direct you and us in all our ways and may we look to Him for guidance in all our affairs.

Did you find out anything about that tax bill I mentioned to you.

Poor old Miller's case came off a couple of weeks ago. But he has not heard anything from his lawyer. Papa asked him a couple of times. Miller says they will pay him. Papa thinks he has lost out. He has a pretty tough job these days getting round with his milk.

Can you get along without fried chicken if we go to England this summer. Mrs. Meyers says she does not know how I will get along about milk if I go to 15th as I am such a crank on milk. We get some nice milk of her.…

Your loving Mother



Papa says I am Mother of the best boy on earth.


March 1, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. March 1909

My Dear Son,

…Mrs. B. said she believed Dr. Schwald would leave Cole Camp as soon as the time was up for him and Stanley to make some other arrangement. But she says Stanley don't want him to leave for another year as Stanley could not look after all the practice when he would be called to the country. Some other Doctor would be getting the town practice and there was not enough for the two. And she did not think Stanley would stay if Schwald went away and there are a good many of these low Germans that Stanley can't get along very well with. I would think Stanley is getting nervous of being left alone.…

Your loving Mother


March 1, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. March 1909

My Dear Son,

…Let me know if you get better meals at your new boarding house. When we sit down to a good dinner Papa will often say I wish my boy could have some of this dinner. I hope you get good meals.

Mrs. B. came up Sunday. Stanley's 6 months were up and he took a trip to St Louis. She says Dr. Schwald wants to sell out. But Stanley don't think he will stay if Schwald goes away. Dr. Schwald has a boy to look after the horses and hitch up. He wanted Stanley and himself to do that work and save four dollars. Stanley told him he would never do anything in that line of work. Schwald done it a few times himself, then had to get the boy back. Then he wanted him to keep fires in the office. Stanley told him he was no office boy. If there was coal, he would put it on. But he would not carry coal.

Stanley don't want to go in partners with him as it will cost too much to buy his share. He believes he would rather take the $75 a month he promised when he went there. Mrs. B. says she don't want S. to put in another winter like he has done this winter. I have an idea he will get married soon. She says he has bought two suits of clothes, kept himself and has saved $150. He had two operations to perform when he came back from St Louis. Cut a finger off a boy and if gangrene had sit in, he would cut the hand off. The other operation two toes that had grown together and he was going to cut one off. Strange he would leave patients like that. They might be dead before he got back.…

Your loving Mother


March 1, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. March 1909

My Dear Son,

…You ought to have seen him [Papa] sporting a large diamond around town yesterday. He bought one the other day. He says he is going to wear it. He did not pay quite as much for it as he did for yours. Have you ever worn yours. Papa put his in his tie.

Mr. Winner got fired. He was in a wreck last week.

Mrs. B. said Polly had a card from you. And Mrs. Gornal had one and Mrs. Smith said she had one from you.

Suites in the Bell are worth $20, 25, 27. etc. and not very nice. I believe if you see what you like I would get it there.…

I have 28 little chickens out. I think they will be ready for frying by the time you get here. Won't be long now til you are home, soon be your birthday.…

Several railroad men has been telling Papa that you have a fine reputation in Sedalia. One said you were the smartest boy in Sedalia.…

Your loving Mother


March 1, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. March 1909

My Dear Son,

…I really don't know how much it would cost to keep up a doctor's style of living. But I know it don't cost much for an engineers wife, at least for your mother and father. So don't know how much you ought to make before getting married. You have good judgment in other things so we'll leave that matter entirely with yourself.

Mrs. B. just came in when I started to write this letter. She is feeling a little better over Stanley getting married. Polly and her is going to the wedding. Mrs. B. said she would not go, but Stanley said he wouldn't go if she did not go. She was laughing and telling me the bride to be said she was going to carry violets when she got married. Stanley has to buy them for her, and they are expensive. Take about $10 worth for her. Stanley told his mother he thought she would not look well carrying violets. She was in a good talking humor.

We went over to see Ervie and Kate and Mrs. Meyers and the baby. Kate is very comfortable. She was complaining about Ervie staying so long at his mothers. Mrs. M. and baby is getting along alright. Baby is a sweet little thing. They are all tickled over it. We did not see Mr. Meyers. He went to bed. They had a nurse with him at night. The doctor says there is no hope for him. He will only last a short time.…

Your loving Mother


March 1, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. March 1909

My Dear Son,

…Ervie Meyers and his wife came over the other night to see about buying this house. They seemed to like it well. Papa asked $900 for it, $400 down, the balance when they could pay for it. He wanted to know if he paid cash would he let it go any cheaper. Papa said no. He would have to depend on the father for it I think. So we have not heard anything more. She is very anxious to get to housekeeping. They have been buying furniture. Mr. Meyers has been at home sick for a month.

Haven't seen any of B.'s since she was here last Sunday. We went up to 15th St. then called at B.'s but there was nobody at home. Then we went up to Annie Cravens. They are all well. Daisy is going to quit high school this summer and go to business college, learn short hand. She says she won't learn bookkeeping. They would work her to death if she did. I think she is most to good to work.

You say you will probably have couple of years in a hospital after you graduate. Well will they pay you or not for that time. Let us know.

A few of the men was talking how they would take it easier some. Walter Letts said his daughter cost him $500 per year. When she got through he was going to take it easier and not come out at night like that bad night. Turner was going to quit when he was 60. Curtis said he told his wife he could take it easier couple of years ago, and he says he never worked as hard as he did last year. So that is the way, pretty hard to quit. Well it is nice to be able to quit, anyway.

…Like to hear what Dr. Mall said on the article. Did you ever meet that professor. I remain,

Your loving Mother

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