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.

March 1, 1941

In 24 hours a real heat has been forecast. And a nice sunny day was all too enticing. I feel already like the little puppies that walked after one day of sunshine. I haven’t heard yet about my three invalids but am assuming that absence of news means that all is well.



This is a lovely spot, a fine new house built on the water. What two years have done to the vegetation is remarkable. Then, it was just a bare sand yard. Now grass like a thick carpet - the most perfectly green lawn you could imagine and all kinds of flowers and fruit-bearing trees.



I couldn’t get a golf game yesterday so I just sat in the sun and read and dozed and finally went to sleep.



I met J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI man, here before dinner and then had dinner with him and his associates at the Everglades Hotel. I have long admired his work in tracing kidnappers and other criminals - it’s the one great product of this country’s past 20 years and absolutely without politics. For that reason, it doesn’t sit well with the President and Congress. He is a great fellow and gave me an invitation to bring the kiddies to Washington and see the workings. He was so appreciative of my operation on his man Lackey - the bullets in the spine that Walter saw.



It’s a little cold today - 40 - but sunny and bright. Am playing golf this afternoon, tomorrow and Monday with a Mr. Swift. Fishing Tuesday and to Ponte Vedra Wednesday. Saw Dr. Young yesterday. Am anxiously awaiting news from you and hope you can tell me that all is well and the angel is back at school. Mrs. Otto is a lovely person and Tom is a great host, though I do feel a little guilty in accepting so much.



Play golf with Bob Thomas tomorrow. Wish you could be here; also the angel.



Love and kisses to all,



Daddy x x x x x


March 3, 1941

Am awaiting my delayed letter to tell me that my first sweetheart is better. Was distressed that the neck was paining now, but a little sunshine arrived with great improvement in the leg. But it shouldn’t be much longer - if only you hadn’t switched doctors in midstream.



Happy that the little angel is well again. I tossed little Tommy up in the air and down on the couch like I do the angel. He was frightened and began to cry. He’s nearly five. He asked his mother if I did that to my little girl.



Have a good face burn - all red and one day’s body burn. Until today, which is cloudy and a little raw, the weather has been fine or sunny. Played golf twice and again this afternoon with Mr. Swift. Expect to fish tomorrow if the weather improves. One of the men has told me that Mrs. Chadwick was having bladder trouble. I called her and she said she was OK. Wanted to send the car down for me, but I told her I’ve been so engaged that it wouldn’t be possible.



Dr. Greene has gone to Atlanta to see his friend Rickenbacker of the airplane accident. Mrs. Greene said she is still looking for a house for you. He is much improved, but still has his angina attacks.



Am enjoying “The Star Gazer” very much. Am anxious to hear the result of Walter’s biology test and to know about his knee. You didn’t tell me that Mary and Kitty weren’t quarreling, so I assume they are not. I should be very happy if that were true. Had dinner last night with Bob Harris and wife. Went to Joe’s, the famous stone crab place. Hoover goes there every night. However, I preferred steak. The most delicious coleslaw I ever ate. It is famous too and often sent to New York with the crabs by airplane. The season is now at its peak. 41 new hotels built this year. If they can keep filled one month, the investment pays. Firestone, whose daughter I saw in Washington, is here now. Tell me you are better. Will be at Ponte Vedra Wednesday.



Love and Kisses to my good and bad angels.



x x x x x x Daddy


March 12, 1941

If I have any more insults about this handwriting! But, come to think about it, Miss Margaret is the only really good writer in the family.



I was so sorry for my little girl. You looked so well and still the pain was there and quite bad, but it is greatly improved at any rate.



The weather here is lovely and am getting lots of sunshine. The bathing trunks are OK. The Hoffmans send you their regards. The maids are all inquiring about the angel. One of them said she would take care of her. Miss her at the 9th hole where she came because she “loved me!” Have been playing golf with three Irishmen from Boston. They are good fun.



Have just had a 15 minute talk with McPhail about the hats: they are very enthusiastic about them. He is going to take out a patent in my name to protect everyone connected with the game against ringers who may hear about it and take the profits. Did you hear the radio report?



Was very pleased with Walter’s report- even his highest score in spelling. It looks like he is going to come through now - with flying colors. Has Margaret gotten that badge yet? How are my little girls getting along in school and together? Have finished “The Star Gazer” and thought it was wonderful - the best historical novel I have read. Beginning “Jefferson” now. You should see how firm I am when bridge is mentioned. I haven’t forgotten the Angel’s reproof from last year.



I hope Otenasek is better. Why not send him “The Star Gazer.” Also one to Dr. McClure in Detroit. Perhaps one also to Dr. Greene. You might call Dr. Broyles and tell him how much I enjoyed it. Won’t be long now ‘til vacation is all over. Dr. Chalmers Moore is coming down tomorrow for a few days with me.



I hope you are all well again. Perhaps I’ll send my trunk a day early so Ize can wash the clothes. You have a key to the trunk.



Love and Kisses,



Daddy x x x x x x x


June 22, 1941

I presume you are all working hard while daddy plays and I hope all the invalids are well enough to work and play. Have now had two days of golf, swimming and eating the best food that can be presented, even cantaloupes. The hospitality could not be excelled. The weather has been ideal, several showers every day –mostly cloudy and a fine breeze from the Ocean. Dr. Moore had to leave last night and Dr. Frank Wilson also (from Birmingham) (Hopkins 1920). I suppose I should come home. but my delightful hosts will not listen to such a suggestion and I am enjoying this luxury too much to resist. I have never encountered a sweeter couple - I shall be spoiled for a long time too come! I am sure due a lot of head rubbing or else!! Ponte Vedra looks good - everything nice and green.



By the way, the “Silver Meteor” is a lovely train - as nice as the “400” you rode to the Mayo and perfectly air conditioned - better than the B & O and nearly as good as the Pennsylvania Railroad.



The water in the ocean is perfect - three times daily.



Hope Margaret and Walter are perfectly well again. Kitty and Mary will soon be due for their appendices! Don’t know when I will return, but it may be earlier than I expected. Have been getting lots of sleep. I presume you will be traveling to Indian Landing by this time - you would if “I were the doctor”.



Heard the girl from Martinsburg was doing nicely. Am worried about Dr. Slaughter who has the brain abscesses.



Take good care of my “little kiddies” and my little sweetheart and Fagin. It won’t be long ‘til the camps and Capon. Has Margaret read the book that she laid so casually on the porch - to play?



Love and kisses to my five.



Daddy x x x x x


March 1, 1942

Again this wild country with all the hardships and an overcoat with the temperature 33! But this sun is out and it warmed up into a lovely day. The red shirt was just right. Played golf with the Winks and had a nice afternoon nap. But everything is so quiet. No noise at meals and no dog barking and no one to scratch the head. And as yet, no pox, but whisper it lightly. Still feel none too secure.



Had a nice quick trip down and 11 hours sleep after a gay week, so I should soon be rested. Tell Kitty how happy her daddy is that she has been such a fine girl and expect improvement to be continuous and lasting so that everyone will like her. She may be better than Mary yet, and Margaret too. Of course, the latter isn’t too much. Better bring Margaret so she can meet me on the 9th hole in her duplicity role. Have her send the little story to Tommy - the one with the “stranger”. Write me about Walter’s 90% and how much better he is than Matt. Also Margaret’s hundreds in spelling and arithmetic. Mrs. Wink has a trained nurse!! You win! She blames me for your advice not to come and leave the baby! How could she? Haven’t missed anything in my repertoire except my pipe - the golfing one. Can get plenty of balls here and the course is fine. Swimming tomorrow.



Love and kisses to my sweetheart and the big four - all of them and Fagie - I miss.



Walter


March 6, 1942

The time is passing rapidly, but such weather I have never seen in Florida -- rain, wind, and cold. I’ve played golf three times and took a half hour sunbath, but the sun didn’t stay out more than a few minutes. All day today has rained and yesterday the wind was so strong all the airplanes were grounded. But am getting a lot of sleep.



Several of the ladies were asking about you and Margaret. One of them remembered a story about Margaret who told her little girl that her daddy cut people’s heads open and she was frightened. Hope the weather is better with you. Dr. Gammon came over today and spent the afternoon playing bridge. Yesterday, we went to the Naval Base where Mrs. Winks’ brother is a flying cadet. The planes - it’s one of the three big Navy plane bases -- were zooming around the skies in a constant stream. There are 6000 flying cadets.



Figured out a new operation the other night waiting for someone to rub my head to sleep. I miss you all very much. Was going to write you to come down with Mrs. Smith, but word has just come that they won’t come. Tell Al Blalock to come - the weather will be fine. Have only had one phone call. Please tell Mrs. Shauck to write Dr.Lyetly of Jacksonville and Mrs. Wright of Palatka that they can contact me here for a deposition.



Love and kisses,



Walterx x x x x x x x x


March 7, 1942

Many thanks for the lovely blue shirt- it’s perfect, but the weather is also so perfect that I’ll have to wear it when I return. For two days, the sun has been supreme and a good sunburn has come from golf and swimming. Ocean dips are swell. The violets are out, also azaleas, Judas trees, etc. Getting lots of sleep.



Have you heard from Bill yet? Has Margaret written the little story to Tommy Otto? I enjoyed her letter. The other little girls and Walter should write me too. Was proud of Walter’s marksmanship with a rifle. How is everything going at school? Has Margaret caught up with her back work?



Went to a big cocktail party at the Rogers’ new house - all the rooms on one floor. The sailors, or rather, naval cadets were over in force last night for the Saturday night dance. They are a fine lot of boys. One young fellow - Westerly - was from Gilman a year or so ago. Mrs. Winks’ brother was also from Gilman 4-5 years ago. He made his first solo flight yesterday. Got lost after coming down out of the clouds, but finally found his way back. The war looks bad - but I guess no worse than the Civil War did for a long time. I hope Turkey doesn’t join Hitler now. I can’t see much left for us when the war ‘s over. Am at least thankful that Walter is still too young to go. So it’s a good thing I didn’t meet my little girl 4 years earlier.



Mrs. Wink and I hunted shells on the beach yesterday - so Margaret can be prepared for a surprise.



I just heard Mrs. Malone died. It was a merciful ending! I hope they viewed it as such. Two horrible cases in their family.



Hope you are all well, and that the weather isn’t too bad. Is Fagie well and adopted better habits of drinking?



Love and kisses to my five sweethearts,



Daddy x x x x x x x x x


March 12, 1942

The time approaches when vacation will be over. I guess I will be home before another letter. Unless I let you know to the contrary, will be at Union Station at 9:30 Monday morning. After looking forward to the winter vacation, it slips by so stealthily. The Winks leave tomorrow. The Gammons were over the other night and Ed Jelks played golf with us yesterday. He is coming over again before I go.



Have had no medical interruptions as yet - unusual. Perhaps you and Mrs. Shauck have ganged up on me.



Has Margaret stopped her nocturnal demonstrations? How are my two little girls and Walter? I am getting anxious to see them. It would be nice for Walter to see some operations or go to X-ray during his vacation. I hope he has been a good boy.



The little mockingbirds are singing away. You can get close to them and see their little throats fill out when they warble. The weather has been perfect for several days. Yesterday I got a little too much sunshine, but not so bad. Wink is a little too good at golf. I don’t seem to be able to rise above him and tomorrow is the last chance. The Inn is full now. I think reservations have been made for Mrs. Williams. Hope you are all well and happy. Will soon see you.



Until then, kisses and hugs from



Daddy x x x x x x x x


March 12, 1942

The time approaches when vacation will be over. I guess I will be home before another letter. Unless I let you know to the contrary, will be at Union Station at 9:30 Monday morning. After looking forward to the winter vacation, it slips by so stealthily. The Winks leave tomorrow. The Gammons were over the other night and Ed Jelks played golf with us yesterday. He is coming over again before I go.



Have had no medical interruptions as yet - unusual. Perhaps you and Mrs. Shauck have ganged up on me.



Has Margaret stopped her nocturnal demonstrations? How are my two little girls and Walter? I am getting anxious to see them. It would be nice for Walter to see some operations or go to X-ray during his vacation. I hope he has been a good boy.



The little mockingbirds are singing away. You can get close to them and see their little throats fill out when they warble. The weather has been perfect for several days. Yesterday I got a little too much sunshine, but not so bad. Wink is a little too good at golf. I don’t seem to be able to rise above him and tomorrow is the last chance. The Inn is full now. I think reservations have been made for Mrs. Williams. Hope you are all well and happy. Will soon see you.



Until then, kisses and hugs from



Daddy x x x x x x x x


July 24, 1942

I miss you all very much, but not more, I think, than Fagie does. He was so glad to see me. Smiles were broad and constant, but he is still somewhat disconsolate. He does not have hydrophobia - answering Miss Margaret’s query. Had lunch with the Finneys on arrival here. Have been steeped in work - writing letters, dictating notes, etc.!! Played bridge at the house last night and it was hot! No shirt! Helen was nearly under. Your father and bride went home Monday evening - said they enjoyed it all and were glad to come again. The garden may soon be hoed!



Am enclosing a couple of your economic conundrums. Helen found a check addressed to R.P.C.S, but they already sent a receipt so I tore it up. Then the Hess bill apparently did not enclose a check. Did you send it?



Love and kisses,



Daddy x x x x x x x x x x


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