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.

August 16, 1934

Mrs. Malone brought me your letter last night as we were playing bridge. This morning I fried eggs and bacon!! and had a delicious cantaloupe. Your nice Helen didn’t call up until this morning, so I told her to come Monday as I may run out to Chicago tomorrow. At any rate, there isn’t anything for her to do until then. I can get along nicely, taking dinner at the club, etc.

Last night I had dinner at Haslinger’s (soft shell crab). Had been to the Vet Bureau and it was raining hard. Thought it was a good opportunity to wait there until the rain stopped. Had the car washed and didn’t want it to get wet. As I was leaving, in came Leslie, he had just returned from a trip to N.Y. Had a nice trip home. Reached Suffolk N.Y about 30 miles beyond Bear Mt. Bridge and stopped as it was raining (nearly 400 miles). It was a nice trip through New Hampshire and Mass to Greenfield; then down the College highway retracing our steps. Passed the Simsburry house (Sapolio) and 3:20 PM. Had dinner at the Danbury in a dining car. Ham and Eggs!! Reached home at 1:15 PM. Everything in house was O.K. Spent the night with Mother. Haven’t gained a pound!

I hope you are having a good time and that the little turbulence isn’t wearing you out. You should cut her adrift in the morning and pick her up at nighttime. Let Mary Ellen experiment on her some more. She just doesn’t conform to ordinary rules of the game.

Your boy is O.K. He cut his foot with a hatchet, but it has healed. Called your mother. It has been raining all day. Yesterday, and the day before, had terrific storms toward evening. Nice and cool at night and not too hot during the day. Will try to get the kitchen painted (and pantry). Have a good time and stay as long as you wish. I miss you, but am happy when I know you are happy and well.

With lots of love,

Walter x x x x x x x

August 28, 1934

I think the joke is on you. Here I am sleeping under blankets (1) every night. Lots of rain, everything green as springtime. The painter is doing the work. Didn’t know which pantry you meant, so took both of them. Finishing tomorrow.

Young Fagin is back. You could never have seen such joy as this young fellow evidenced on arrival Monday night. He was held on a leash out front until I opened the back door and called Fagin. Such speed and romping. He burst in and all over me, back and forth and up the stairs, tearing all the rugs from their moorings en route. He just couldn’t be repressed. Have been trying to get Helen to give him a bath, but she finds excuses.

Haven’t heard from your boy. Didn’t get to go to Chicago - was already, but work piled up. Have been very busy. Have about completed proofreading on new book. Played golf twice. Too cold to swim. Been going to bed early. Mr. Malone comes over to have breakfast with me. Grass cut yesterday. “Easy” washed everything Monday. Everything is going nicely so stay as long as you wish. Will take care of Walter when he comes.

Finally got entire check from Tramel, perhaps because I wrote that I had turned it over for suit. Got nice letter from her. Going to Griff Davis for tea this afternoon and bridge at home tonight. Miss my three little girls, including turbulence. Tell Mary no one ever gets hurt riding on trains, especially our railroad.

Meniere’s paper is out and getting quite a number of new cases of this type. Having quite a hard time with my new assistant. Don’t see how he can make the grade. Wish I had Kunkel another year or for keeps. Had dinner with Luke Hopkins at Country Club last week. Saw Griswold at the bank and told him Weed was an impossible choice for Hopkins. He approved. Am looking forward to homecoming, but stay until you have had enough. Everything will go O.K.

Love and love and love,


There should be a sprinkler somewhere.

October 4, 1934

October 4, 1934

Did you say I never wrote? Will you take it back now?

I find my R. R. timetable memories are a little dulled. I can take (and will) an earlier train out of NY and get to Baltimore at 11:03 AM. Then you can do all your errands more comfortably.

This writing looks like travel on the B & O, but the reason is great speed which is prohibitive to that road.

You might tell Mrs. Shauck 12 is OK for appointments. Had too much to eat, including peach pie - a now almost forbidden fruit!

With more and more love also to the little kiddies (3 ½).

Walter x x x x x x x

January 1, 1936


Am waking up now, feeling fine and burned – too much, too quickly – and I am ready to return to my little girl and her rascals. Arrive Monday 12:22 noon. Should have enough to keep you listening a long time. Why don’t you have the grandparents over Tuesday so mother will be relieved. Just had breakfast a little while ago (in bed - ha! ha!) and now luncheon is ready. Will see you soon.

x x x x x x x Walter x x x x x x x x

January 30, 1936

It’s a long time since I wrote you – because I have been staying home so much. The train here was 1 hr. late – so Mr. Geist didn’t wait, but arranged for his professional to start off with me. They didn’t give me a chance to write you pronto, but even so, it’s better than usual, isn’t it?

What a beautiful place it is, all covered with flowers inside and all Spanish on a tremendous scale – the longest lobby in the world and all kinds of flowers covering the walls and hanging from the ceilings. It’s sunny and warm – played in shirtsleeves and little perspiration. I presume you got some snow. It snowed way down in North Carolina and quite heavily. Met Balliers on the train. He is flying to Jamaica going to the bay across the island. Ran into Mr. Ellis (of the boat trip). The place is about half full - such a display - but not a garish one - I have never seen.

How are my little kiddies? I hope you are “laissez faire-ing” them more. They are good, with only the weakness of kiddies. I have been thinking that I should like to have Margaret now, just as Mary Ellen expressed it. How is the little angel now? Hope Kitty Lou is not sensitive about her musical demonstration.

Is the Juniper Lake holding out as a skating rink? Don’t you think Walter would make a good professional minstrel man? I won’t get a chance to tell him how well he did it. It was well worth waiting over three days to see - that and Kitty Lou, of course.

Wish my little girl was along. She would have a grand time inspecting the Spanish ruins, including all the furniture in the rooms (looks like peasant stuff to me). Will bring you some other time. The big high vaulted rooms are like many cathedrals - all in one. Take care of my little kiddies as well as my fourth (1st) girl. Let the big boy shift for himself. Hope you had a nice trip with him to New York. Wish I were along.

Bye bye and many kisses,

Walter x x x x x x

Dropped a line to Palm Beach that I was here – may hear something.

January 31, 1936

It seems like old Jekyl days to be writing you from Florida in mid-winter. But in all my halcyon days, I never saw such finery and luxury. The club roster reads like a directory of Wall Street and big business, although not the men of such caliber as old Jekyl used to show.

It snowed all the way down into North Carolina, but it was lovely and warm here. I played golf in the afternoon in shirtsleeves. Had dinner with Mr. & Mrs. Geist. Such a fancy dining room, I have never seen. The most beautiful flowers everywhere – inside and out. This place cost $10,000,000 to build and to keep it up must mean a fortune and to live here must mean another fortune. I don’t see how they can make it pay, regardless of extreme prices. Mr. Geist bought it for 6¢ on the dollar and it paid $160,000 last year. It’s just a division with him.

Met a man here who was on the boat trip with us two years ago. I am going swimming this morning.

Miss my little family. Did I tell you that Mary Ellen asked if she couldn’t sleep with Margaret sometime? She “just wanted to hug her tight.” I feel so too and for all the rest of them, although they can’t pay nearly as much attention to their daddy. Walter said to Cookie: “Hey Squirt, did you know pappy is going away.” That’s the slang they get at a private school. He was so good in his minstrel play at school and Kitty Lou was so sweet playing the piano all alone. Wish you could have seen them. They are all so different and each has individual virtues. Margaret is going to be like her brother.

Hope you and Papa are well. Glad it’s not necessary to pull the tooth. Don’t get any more upsets of the cold. When the weather is better you must come over and see more of Margaret. She says “bye bye” now, but acts more than she says.

From your loving son,

Walter x x x x x x

February 2, 1936

The time is flying too fast, but I’ll be glad to see my cute little family again. It’s perfectly wonderful here. Perfect weather, lots of sunshine, and the most magnificent place in the world. Have good sunburn and not taken too rapidly. The swimming is good, plenty of golf. Many nice people here.

Mrs. C. called me and I had to go to a dinner yesterday - all foreign nobility and all with marital difficulties, which is taken for granted. I got back safely, but there is a good chance of capturing a title if things could be properly arranged. They don’t have much difficulty in doing it. There were Russian, French, English, and Hebrew - just a matter of choice. Nothing will do but that I spend the last three days there, so I guess I go back - but I am trying to formulate an excuse I must have dinner with Mr. Stokesbury (who is the social leader in Palm Beach!). He is so anxious to see me again!

A French count is staying at the Villa today and such a charming fellow. He wears a monocle and does it nicely. A little training in the mechanics and the required social amenities of its proper usage will probably be acquired by American surgeon before returning to Baltimore. You are missing more than I thought. This is, of course, the height of the season - which I missed before.

My practice, both foreign and domestic, should increase rapidly now, making the trip would be well worthwhile in both social and economic ways. Will you stand in my way if I can get a countess? Mr. Geist says I should stay here and forget it all. Think what it would mean to my little kiddies to be of the great nobility.

Just got your letter, which I thought was never coming. Take good care of my little kiddies and don’t let Margaret forget me. Love and many kisses to the acme of American nobility.

Walter x x x x x x

June 22, 1936

Just received your letters and the new journal. I am happy to know you are all sufficiently occupied to be glad you are in N.H. If our present cold snap is a reflection of the northern climate, you must be freezing. Am now writing in bed with a blanket over me. It was quite humid the day of arrival, but I thought it was more oppressive because of the change. Came through to Baltimore without change, leaving Portland at 9:30. Had a great line of patients waiting at 12 o’clock. Walked up to town in Portland and saw Longfellow’s statue. This time only two stops once or twice before reaching N.Y. Perhaps you can catch this train back. Patients have been coming in hordes since return operating every day.

Do you remember the conversation about Mrs. Duncan? When I got back, I looked up her history and called her home to learn the doctor’s name to respond to him. The phone was always busy. When I got home, the newspaper headlines reported her death from pneumonia in Louisville. They weren’t greatly convinced with my advice. Perhaps had I let the doctor come over that night, the result might have been different.

The two remaining members of the family in Baltimore are very lonesome. Poor Fagie is quite disconsolate, he will scarcely eat, he mopes around as though he has lost his best friends. The Malones try to pet and interest him, but with only mediocre success. Even his friend in similar circumstances has little interest. He says he wants the little kiddies! Helen is taking good care of us. The house is very clean in ship shape condition but the noise and chatter, etc., is so absent as to be most depressing. Tell K.L.D. that I should almost be glad to hear some discussion and dissention. Saw your mother and she is much better- almost well. Mother is still quite weak, but think she may be picking up now - I hope so. She won’t move over here. Had dinner with her last night. She missed the big boy and his appetite and the three little girls. I told her about Margaret, the oranges, winking and drinking out of the glass. I miss you all so much. Hope I may get away over the 4th, but there will have to be a big drop in the new arrivals.

Had to go to N.Y. Friday for purposes undisclosable (guess!). Got my long cherished desire – to ride the electric locomotive all the way. What a thrill it was. They insisted on sending a man along to answer question and show the working of the wonderful thing. He was a prince of a fellow – the road foreman. Tell Mary she would have been afraid this time for sure - there wouldn’t have been any dinner for her that night. But it was all a wonderful experience. Wish Walter had been along. Give my love to all and kiss them all – maybe Margaret twice. And tell me how all are getting along. The furniture news was fine. Played golf yesterday first time. How are the flies and caterpillars? Tell Walter there is a photograph of a gypsy moth in the station in Conway Center. I saw it all waiting the half hour.

Love, kisses, and all good wishes to my little family. And most of all, my little girl.

x x x x x

July 4, 1936

Here it is the 4th and I had hoped to be with my family, but the best laid plans and mice and men gang aft a-gley. I miss you all very very much. There isn’t anyone to rub my head to sleep. No one to steal my tooth paste and shaving cup and pile up the tubs and no one to do so many things, but still I wake up at 6 AM. However, I get an early start every morning and am usually asleep at 9:30.

I certainly enjoyed Kitty Lou’s letter. She writes well and her penmanship is excellent –

better than her mother’s, Helen says. The weather here has been perfect, with plenty of rain. There hasn’t been a hot day yet. Some of the time, sleep under a blanket.

Work has been heavy. Stafford has gone and Vandergrift is in his place. Haven’t played much golf but going out today and more regularly from now on. No swimming. Hope to get up with you about the middle of the month. How did you like Margaret’s picture? Sent the proofs and picture to Mrs. Hook. How is my little girl? I miss her! But glad to know you are all happy and well.

Love and Kisses,

Daddy x x x x x x

July 10, 1936

It won’t be much longer before I can hug and kiss all of you. Have been very busy. If I can get through, will leave here Wednesday or Thursday, but can’t quite see that far ahead. I might even be the end of the week! Tell Mary I enjoyed her nice letter.

Mother thinks Walter at least should have written her a letter. I think after what she has done for them and all the work she has done so gladly, it would be a very small thing for each of the children to send her a nice letter. Little things mean so much to her.

I took Mrs. Malone, your mother and my mother swimming yesterday. All had a good time. They are all improving. When we got back, your father came out in great excitement and notified us that Aunt Cora had (purposely) cut her neck, but scarcely nicked the skin.

Played golf yesterday - temp 103°. It was sure hot, but that was the first hot day.

So sorry about your back. Was it like the attack you had before the scarlet fever?

Peter and the Wyckoffs go to Cape Cod next week. I forgot to tell you I took the three Wilson children swimming. Martha is developing into a very pretty sweet girl. Leslie was wearing the bathing suit that Walter had outgrown.

Am anxious to see all my little kiddies and Margaret. Helen is taking good care of me. Fagin still loves me. Weaver gave him a bath. Cantaloupes are not yet in - probably another week. Haven’t seen the Goodriches since I came back. The house is closed. Anxious to see Walter’s snakes. Am glad to know that Mary and Kitty never quarrel any more. It was worth going to New Hampshire.

Will see you all soon – In the interim, much love and many kisses,