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 3, 1942

Am enclosing a check for suitcase with clothes. It will be at Penn Station in Winchester and doubtless by the time this reaches you. I thought you might need the clothes. Think I can plan to leave by bus (unless the Lenhardts come) on Wednesday 13th, leaving Washington at 1 PM. Have been very busy, operating all the time and seeing loads of patients. Going to the Finneys for dinner Wednesday. The Blalock’s have gone and taken Betty. Haven’t seen Jane since her return. Fagie is quite lonely, but takes care of the house and sleeps under my bed.

Had five night calls - one may be Mayor Jackson’s son – not serious (The Ponselle’s husband) and another aneurysm near the stadium. Golf twice with Blalock. Had interesting dinner with Patterson of the Sun at Kennels Tuesday. Hope you are well and missing me. Plan to return on the 24th. Walter’s beans are thick and tomatoes ripening. The garden is hoed (in boiling sun).

Love and kisses from

Daddy x x x x x x x x

August 10, 1942

The time is nearing when I shall see you all again. I have visualized you all many times –not hearing very much!! The fat envelope with bill was a big letdown!

Had dinner with the Lippys yesterday and with the Finneys on Friday. Have been very very busy. I’d better tell you it will be Thursday and not Wednesday that I come. Have them meet the bus at Winchester.

Mamie called up to say she was coming back - didn’t like the new job. Mary has taken calls a couple of times. She had the sister of Mrs. Kaltenbacks’ maid to take the job. They are away - also the Malones.

Fagie is still quite despondent, but cheers when I come around. He will need a bath soon. He got sore at the mailman because he brought another dog along. He would not accompany him even without the other dog, but all has been patched up again.

We have had a very cool week - cloudy and rainy. The rain came in on the bed and woke me at 3AM. The Blalocks are away. Helen got some beans and tomatoes from Walter’s garden. I fried steak and cooked the beans - ha ha! Tell Margy I want to see her dive first thing Goodbye ‘til Thursday.

Love and kisses,

Daddy x x x x x x x

August 11, 1942

I wouldn’t come to Winchester - with the gas and rubber shortage. It isn’t worth it.

My word about Walter came through Helen! And the newsletter! You are a hot correspondent! And Margaret, no less! Got a nice letter from Mary - none from Kitty. Had another big rain last evening. Bridge tonight at the house.

Love to all,


March 8, 1943

A week has gone and I feel and look (I think) like a different person. The winters seem to get me down.

Sorry to hear the angel has whooping cough. It must be pretty well over now – and pretty light compared to the others. Have just received her second letter - what a great little thing she is!

The weather has been nice until today. It was dull and cold, but got nice in the afternoon. However, I took the afternoon off and took my usual siesta. This morning I walked up to Dr. Brown’s cottage and had a nice hour of conversation with him. One doesn’t have to play bridge to be entertained. With him the conversation just rolls along and all so keenly interesting. He is quite wonderful with his infirmity. He can scarcely see enough with one good eye to get around the house. But he is so cheerful and happy. Mrs. Garrett (Robert?) is here by herself and didn’t I get sucked in for a golf game with her tomorrow – and Mr. Browne. I am still not too skillful with the ladies. Phoned the Jelks’ today to come over some time with the Gammons.

Think the cold is probably not the whooping cough - though it may be. At any rate, it’s loosing its virility and have fewer and less severe paroxysms. It’s more like the annual spasmodic affair I’ve had for past four years. Wish I had the sports coat! Really forgot what such a thing was. You can send me a 44 if you wish.

Love and kisses to all my angels,

Daddy x x x x

March 12, 1943

Walter is about ready to take off for Miami. He should have a fine time. And how is my little angel and the whooping cough? And how was Mary’s pajama party and what is that? A new one to me. You didn’t tell me why Mary quit. And how do you get along! It looks like we will have to wear clothes longer. Tell Miss Margaret I want her to write me another story. That was a lovely one. And more poetry. The lucky penny I keep in my spectacle’s case. Her bank is getting quite heavy. I sent her letter to Kitty with strict instructions to return it, for permanent keeping. Wrote Kitty twice!!! and got a nice letter from her.

The weather is perfect now warm and sunny and clear. And lots of sunshine and burn and golf. Many very nice people here. Last night I had dinner with Mrs. Garrett and her friends, the Owen Johnsons. Apparently he is a noted writer and gives radio programs from time to time. You probably know him better than I. He never comes on the fight and basketball programs. So how would I know? Am going to Tom Brown’s for cocktails again tonight, to the Owen Johnsons’ for dinner tomorrow. Dr. Brown is nearly blind, but very cheerful and happy. A most attractive man. His wife is very nice. The Campbell children are here. Dr. C. is in a camp at Columbia S.C. and they are trying to be near him. Two doctors are here from Saranac, another from New York. There is no food scarcity.

The cough is dwindling. Just had a dip in the ocean! Played bridge a couple of times. Have finished the Dean Lewis volume and last far as the writing is concerned.

Just read of a tumor operation at Ann Arbor. Think that is the case they wired me about before leaving! A lady who is here said I operated on her little niece the day I left.

Hope you get to N.Y. with Miss Thomas. Take good care of my sweethearts. I’ll soon be back. Does Margaret agree that she is better when her Daddy is away?

Love and Kisses,

Walter x x x x x x

March 14, 1943

The time is drawing to a close - five more days. It is wonderful here. Perfect weather and I hate to leave. Had I known that things at home were so much better without me, I should have stayed another week - but it’s too late now. What I want to know is how Margaret feels without her Daddy. I guess Mary is due a dollar, so give it to her with my compliments and congratulations. I don’t see why Margaret is the only good member of the family - but it has seemed so. Perhaps Mary will blossom out now.

General Somerville is here now - on his honeymoon. He is the hardboiled guy of the army – but a very determined looking man - he looks the part. The Stouts are here, but so far no golf. But then I already have my friends here - one in every port like the sailor.

Glad the turkey came, but it’s just like Austin to know when I was away.

Tell Otenasek to give rounds on Monday and I will probably get back in time for operations at 10, but to call before starting the anesthetic.

Glad you got my tires fixed up. Am so brown you won’t know me. How is my angel and her whooping cough? She hasn’t written me another story. Tell her I keep the lucky penny in my glasses case. Leave all the necessary spankings to Daddy, who will soon be home.

Love and kisses and hugs from


March 28, 1943

Ponte Vedra again and at last. A perfectly beautiful day greeted me - a little chilly in the morning - the overcoat wouldn’t have been amiss! But nice and warm in the afternoon spent at golf. They couldn’t send my trunk until tomorrow, but an old patient - operated on 15 years ago, a taxi man in Jacksonville, met me and said he would get it out for me. Hence, the golf today. Train ride was very nice! 1 ½ hours late leaving Washington. The robins are out in force, the violets in bloom, dogwood coming out, mockingbirds singing.

Played golf with a man named Sullivan who lived next door to Al Blalock in Jonesboro, Ga. Saw a new aircraft carrier going down the coast - it certainly was traveling fast. I apparently have caught Margaret’s cough. Although I slept the clock around, I was conscious of a dry barking cough all night and at times during the day. A little nasal discharge with it. She certainly passes along her treasures to her daddy. Tell her there aren’t any little children her age here. Met a dentist - Cummins - on the train who asked if I remembered the time Holly Smith’s dogs spoiled our golf game.

Tell Walter I am expecting a big improvement in his work at school. And I want to see my little sweet Mary’s disposition where it used to be when it was so perfect. And Margaret, of course, to remain as is. Will write Kitty tomorrow.

Love and kisses. Have Margaret’s handkerchief with all her money to be added to frequently, I hope,

x x x x x x x x

May 16, 1943

So far we have had a lovely time, marred of course by Dr. Reid’s funeral. The American

Surgical went out in body on three special streetcars. The services were held at the University. The rostrum of the big amphitheatre was covered with flowers, the coffin in the center. I didn’t see Mrs. Reid. I was told she didn’t want to see anyone and I thought it best not to intrude.

Saw many at the meeting, including Mrs. Singleton who was particularly interested to hear about you. Her son and new daughter-in-law were there, he in army uniform. The new wife is just as sweet as she can be. Dr. Bennett was elected to the Society –everyone being delighted at his selection. Mrs. Mason was there and asked about you.

It was raining and cold here in Chicago yesterday, but today is clear. We went immediately to the Great Lakes Station and had an enjoyable afternoon. Dr. Craig knew many of the men, making it much nicer. He is a lovely boy and fine traveling companion. En route we met a young doctor from Clarksburg, Mo. - 50 miles from Sedalia. He went to the University and knew about me. His home now is Bloomington, Illinois, named Dr. Needles. His father worked on the R.R. We leave tonight at 6 o’clock for Seattle – via train. A ball game this afternoon. Here’s the itinerary (probable) for mail, etc.:

{U. S. Naval Hospital, Bremerton, Washington, work May 18 & 19

{San Francisco (Reichert) May 20-1-2

{U.S. Naval Hosp., Corona, California May 24-5-6-7

{U.S. Naval Hosp., San Diego May 28-29

{Los Angeles (c/o Dorothy Lamour) May 30, 1, 2-3-4 (?)

Looks like I might get home for Walter’s commencement if dates are not increased, particularly the last!

Love and kisses from

Daddy x x x x x x

May 18, 1943

Real winter is here again. This morning there was a big snow. For 200 miles a heavy blanket covered the ground. At Cheyenne it was so cold one couldn’t stay outdoors in a summer suit. Toward afternoon it was still cold, but all the mountains are covered. Just now we are at Pocatello in a beautiful irrigated plain. The Snake River dam is alongside the rails and tracks. There is a big gov’t airfield here. This is a lovely train that skims along like the Superchief on the Santa Fe.

We get to Portland in the morning and Seattle in the evening. Did I tell you we got some delicious spare ribs and sauerkraut in Chicago? The ball game was a double header, but it was too cold to stay for the second game the only mistake you made was to send me away with two summer suits. A winter one would have been fine.

Dr. Craig is a fine traveling companion and a real fellow. He knows so many more surgeons than I do so I will he will take me along and I will even up by taking him to see Dorothy! He thinks that makes it even!

Who will take my place at home? Tell Margaret to come on out. How are my little Mary & Kitty and Walter and his (my) garden?

Had some wonderful strawberries for breakfast - from Portland. The Portland roses should be out now - perhaps! Tomorrow morning we ride along the Columbia River about breakfast time - 4 hours between trains. Dr. Craig’s wife lets him fly. He almost deserted me to fly out via Rochester. He has three boys and a girl (6).

Take good care of the little sweetheart and the three angels and the lemon.

Love and kisses from

Daddy x x x x

May 23, 1943

We have just arrived in Corona, 65 miles from Los Angeles and although it’s 11 o’clock, I must write my angels: there just hasn’t been time until now. Every day has been a rush from rising sun until 11-12 PM. We have seen so much in such a short time that all is in a fog. I shall be able to keep you going with conversation for many weeks.

We took the streamliner “Daylight” from ‘Frisco to Los Angeles. Ten hours. Two hours by plane, but the scenery was so lovely, preferred the former. Last evening we saw the Reicherts and dinner with them. I have told you of their beautiful room overlooking the Golden Gate. Last night the sunset over the bridge and the gate was gorgeous. We all left dinner to see it. Dr. Bloomfield came over and Dr. Glen Craig.

The plane trip from Seattle was wonderful. Mt Shasta was white with snow and the wing of our plane pressed very close. The Sacramento Valley was a grand sight. There can’t be a city so beautiful as San Francisco. Our tour of the hospitals took us for miles in a circuit around the city and over both the great bridges. Seattle was a the height of spring and I never saw more beautiful day . The Cascade Mountains, including Mt. Olympus – all snow capped -- were only a few miles away.

The trip down the Columbia River into Portland 100 miles was marvelous. And now we’re in Lower California. Should leave here Friday night and get the Baltimore Monday morning. Too late for rounds and operations. Can see patients at 2 PM. It ‘s quite late. I will soon be telling you all.

Love and kisses from

Daddy x x x x x