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.

May 27, 1943

We are now ending our course. Today has been one of the most interesting of all. I had never been to San Diego before. Two of your letters caught up with me here. I was as glad to read them as if I had been in Guadalcanal!

Yesterday we drove from Corona to Long Beach and down to San Diego. 100 miles along the ocean. Such beautiful miles of flowers of all kinds and colors. I have never seen orange groves mile after mile - lemons or olives. This morning we drove through the old World’s Fair grounds. The buildings have been turned into a hospital - 8,000 beds. The flowers are gorgeous and a real riot. Saw a cute hummingbird on her nest.

The personnel of the Navy is remarkable. I didn’t know there were so many high grade neurosurgeons - all young men - in the next generation. Saw many nerve injuries and disks - not well treated. Tomorrow they have asked us to lecture - I on disks and Dr. Craig has some movies of injured heads made by Walt Disney’s right hand man. They are on the order of animated cartoons.

At Long Beach saw a Dr. Michael who was in Hopkins with me and ate at the same place. This afternoon went to the Navy Air Station at Coronado - the most planes I ever saw. A carrier was ready to load up with them and hike west.

We leave tomorrow afternoon and spend the night in Los Angeles with “?” [Dorothy Lamour]. Mrs. C. was so happy to hear from me. See Orson Wells tomorrow (rather Friday) just before entraining at noon.

I forgot Monday will be Decoration Day. Happy to hear of Mary’s invitation at Gilman and Margaret’s piano exhibit. Is she a good girl again? Kitty should be home then, too. Will be on tap for Walter’s part. Will soon be seeing you.

Love and kisses,

Daddy x x x x x x

July 31, 1943

So happy to know that you are having such a good time. Dr. Nelson told me of the athletic prowess among members of my family - the younger ones! Helen and I, mostly the latter, have had three fine meals from that grand duck. Do tell Lou how much I appreciate it. And my medical service has been in absentia. And besides, at its best, I don’t think it is worth this duck.

We have had lovely weather ever since you left, nice rains and quite cool. Went to Pine Valley Thursday with Dan Shaeffer - Al went along. Yesterday I motored to Bethesda to see Dr. Craig. Tonight I go to Rocky Mount, N.C. to see a patient. Have been very busy and many cases coming next week.

Hope to get down Saturday. Tell Lou to meet the bus (personally of course) at Winchester unless notified otherwise. Tell him also to brief up on his game - also bridge – which I refuse to play.

Slept 11 hours last night, even missing Bill Dyer. If you hear of anyone motoring down Saturday afternoon, from Baltimore or Washington, it would be better than the bus.

Fagie is drooping, refuses to eat until he gets hungry enough. Margaret hasn’t written him! Walter’s (rather mine) tomatoes are ripening. Cantaloupes are delicious. Sending Walter’s letter. How does Mary act since she is sweet sixteen - two years ahead of Kitty now!

With all my love and anticipation of seeing my four girls soon,

Daddy x x x x x x x

None from Fagie to Miss Margaret

March 4, 1944

Well here it is sunny and hot, we came in 4 hours late, after making up another hour by a fine burst of speed. It was 4:30 when I arrived here. Mr. Wright of Palatka, whose little boy (14) I operated 4 years ago for a pineal tumor, met me and carried baggage and all so that I could play golf this afternoon. He still owes me on the bill, so I got this out of him. But it was too late as the Sunday afternoon nap was substituted. I was awakened at 6 o’clock by the booming of cannons - only the thunder of a lovely spring shower and it is so beautiful and calm and green after.

Ray told me you had trouble starting the car - flooding? But when he found me, you had gone. Met Dr. Bruce Gill and his ten doctor friends and wives. You recall meeting him at Mrs.Garrett’s party. I suggested their coming here and they like it. If you were only here it would be lovelier, but you can’t be young and have a budding family and this too. Your lot may be the better after all? Compensations! If Margaret could be such! I want many more 100s from her and Mary, too. I wish I could see more of her prowess in basketball - those vicious plunges!

Hope Helen is back with you soon. There were no hiatuses in my wardrobe - all was perfect. The sunburn begins tomorrow.

Love and kisses to all my sweethearts.

Daddy x x x x x x x x

X For Fagie

March 23, 1944

All five of them! Sounds like the worm story. It’s a rainy, muggy day for a change. Shall soon go up and read Der Fũerhrer, having just had lunch. Drs. Jelks, Richardson and Lyerly came over for golf the other day. Then had dinner at Dr. Richardson’s house just above the Inn. The Gammons came over and recalled Margaret’s misbehavior on her visit there. The golf balls came in the nick of time.

Only four more days till leaving time. I will have had enough by then. Three weeks is just about right for plutocrats.

Got three letters in a bunch (very late), but none from the angel. Kitty wrote me (typewritten!)and forwarded me Margy’s cute letter about Don and not smoking until 21.

Glad you had such a nice time in New York. I wrote Dr. Bartle asking him to drive down but have heard nothing – perhaps he was away. You didn’t tell me whether Helen came back. She is going to have a hard pull if she doesn’t get started soon. Have been reading about your bad weather. It has been lovely here - a little more rain than usual, but it soon clears up.

Got a nice letter from Mrs. Shauck which I will enclose. Guess Otenasek is having a swell time while the cat is away! Hope he stays well. Troland wrote me and was worrying about his status when he returned. Should like to keep him too, but where will they operate? Hopkins should expand and take care of the youngsters who are coming along. It won’t be long until we have two doctors in the family – three when Margaret comes up.

Just met Bob Merritt, President of the Equitable Trust - Baltimore - a most attractive fellow. The Brunes are also here. Played golf with Donald Nelson’s second man – Batt - Dr. Smith is working with him. They are trying to get me to give a talk at one of the camps. I’m hoping to escape it, especially since the time is growing short. Only four more days. Haven’t got my reservation yet, but they think it will come O.K.

Take good care of my little girls and give them some big hugs for

Daddy x x x x x x x

April 11, 1944

A week has passed - all too quickly. I wish you were here with me – also the absentees. Yesterday it rained all day and hard, but today the sun is creeping out. Last night the lights went out just after supper, so no bridge and 12 hours sleep.

I have been entertaining a very nice lady - Mrs. Gay - on: “is act one”, “the worms” and other “dumb jokes.” She likes them!

You told me the angel came home with a headache - twice, or was it only once? I hope it was just a part of her cold, but I was a little worried.

The robins are around and are probably on the way to Baltimore. The mockingbirds are just singing away. Went to Mr. Rogers’ cocktail party yesterday. Am getting a good sunburn. The paper says it was 18 in Baltimore yesterday - too bad. You didn’t tell me the verdict on Helen. I hate to see you doing all the work, but you are a good sport about it. Did Walter get down to the dance? And is Mary having too good a time? Perhaps Margy had better come down to recuperate. Is her arithmetic improved? I haven’t had a letter from either of them – not even Fagie. Mary used to write me frequently. The Philadelphia crowd is beginning to break up. They have been lots of fun. Ed Jelks and the Gammons are coming over next week. It has been very quiet with no medical calls.

Kiss my three little girls and take good care of them.

Daddy x x x x x x x x

July 18, 1944

It is very lonesome without my girls - and quiet, too. Fagie agrees. He spends most of the time with Paul and comes home to sleep. He is at my heels everywhere I go; and he looks sad. The morning when I let him out and went to the front of the yard (in my abbreviated costume with one long and one short leg), the nemesis of Fagie was running up the sidewalk with his escort. Fagie did not deign to consult with him, even though the superior dog was not on the leash.

Walter did not return home on his way back. I presume he made it all right. Glad to know you are there and having a good time. Helen was very glad to take care of me for breakfast and Sundays, but she said you made arrangements with Polly and she is afraid to hurt Polly’s feelings and tell her she will do it. But I guess it will work one way or another. Polly does very well and I don’t have to beg for beer - and I can listen to Bill Dyer.

The salmon party turned out to be quite formidable. Howard Smiths, Blalocks and Barkers and the stag. The best part was after dinner: We danced until 2 AM and I slept until Monday morning (except for golf). What a night, and a hot one! It rained Sunday night and has been cool ever since: Looks like more rain now.

Take good care of my girls and have a good time. Do you miss Daddy?

Love and Kisses, Daddy

x/4 to Mary from Fag – Paul gets the rest.

July 22, 1944

One of whom is now sweet 17. You are doubtless are having a good time, but you haven’t much on us for weather. It has been lovely here all week - nice and cool and some rain. Helen is cooking crabs tonight. The little robins grew so rapidly, they must have fallen out of the nest. They were so cute bulging over the nest. And this morning they were gone and the nest was deserted. The little wrens appear to like their new home. They buzz about and chatter and sing. Fagie isn’t much interested in them or anything except Paul during the day and he follows at my feet everywhere I go at night. His buzzard lady friend hasn’t complained any more. He goes with the mailman every morning.

Too bad you can’t hear Bill Dyer. He has been unusually good the past two nights and the only radio substitute for the dull Democratic convention.

Walter didn’t show up Sunday. I guess he didn’t have time. The house is so quiet! Mrs. O.T. came over yesterday to see Helen and will return again. Mr. Malone has had no luck catching the rat. Brought Mrs. Malone and a friends of hers to Hopkins Eye Department this morning.

Wonder if Kitty’s ear isn’t a fungus infection. There is a lot of it around. A boil wouldn’t last so long. Can send you some fungus medicine if you wish. Won’t be long now until I join you. Is Margaret a good girl? Are you all proud of her?


Daddy x x x x x x Fagie forgot to send his.

August 1, 1944

I do hope my little Kitty is now well and having the good time she looks forward to all year. You have probably seen Dr. Nelson by this time. Am anxious to know what he did about the penicillin. The time is passing fast and I shall soon join you. Unless you find someone looking for a hitchhiker, I will arrive at Martinsburg at 11:35 on Thursday the 10th.

There hasn’t been anything except the routine and plenty of it. Have sent two articles away this week. The cantaloupes are now full blown and are wonderful Are you eating the plums off my tree? The paper stated that the Collenberg’s boy is to marry soon. Audrey came over last evening to rent half of our garage. A heavy wind tore a big branch off the old maple tree. It fell against the porch windows, but none were broken. Al and I went to a baseball double header the other night (Saturday). He and the family spent the weekend at the Rienhoff’s cottage at Gibson Island. Asked me to go, but preferred to stay home.

Since Firor is away, I am delegated to examine the students tomorrow. Walter sent me the pictorial life of Wilson. I was so thrilled. I stayed up ‘til the next morning to finish it. Haven’t heard from him - or from you all for a long time. Distance lends enchantment! Fagie comes in as usual and without restrictions. The mailman is on vacation and he (Fagie) won’t deign to play with the substitute.

Love and kisses to my four girls – good and bad,

x x x x x

November 15, 1944

We are now streaming through the desert of Wyoming: a thin layer of snow covers the ground and it’s snappy cold and clear without. This lovely train of 17 cars just glides along without jerks because it is articulated. It has a little lateral movement like a rolling boat as the penmanship may indicate. The beds are made of foam rubber and wonderful to sleep on. When rubber is back on the market and our mattress becomes a little sunken, we can look into one of these. Perhaps for single beds only!

Met Mr. Joyce on the train and we ended up across the aisle at dinner. My car was put on at Washington so I parked with him until then. Dr Craig joined me at Silver Spring. Met a Dr. Watt of Washington - a neurosurgeon who does prefrontal lobotomies and who operated on Mrs. Clements of Emerson Lake. Yesterday we spent in plebian fashion. Spent the morning in the station reading the paper. At 12 he talked to his collected family - all being at the phone by arrangement. He hadn’t been home since August, when he had 5 days leave.

Am now enjoying the works of Washington Irving. You will like it. Leaned about the origin of the “Peale” Museum and of Cooperstown and of many names that we well know, but not too well placed in the early growth of the country. I believe Dr. Park is distantly related to Aaron Burr - a grandson of Jonathan Edwards. Must send Park the book. Perhaps you can get another before they disappear.

Wish I had that other bag! Hope my kiddies are well and doing good work. Don’t let Margie injure Walter in her display of temper. And Mary’s stubbornness needs a little - quite a little - softening! Will write to Kitty - probably from Honolulu - or Guam. Take good care of each other and Fagie. I’ll soon be on the trail of the blondes!

Love and kisses from

Daddy x x x x x x

November 17, 1944

Here in San Francisco. Arrived at noon yesterday, but didn’t have a minute to drop you a line. At once to arrange for transportation to Honolulu and have just been notified that we are off tonight at 8 PM. That will put us in Honolulu about noon tomorrow. Going by Pan American, which is the best and most comfortable way.

Last night the Reicherts gave us a party - Bloomfields, Stevensons and Ed Broyles. Got back at midnight. It was good to see them all again - all looking well. Ed goes back to Baltimore today. The climate here is snappy and invigorating, but comfortable without an overcoat. The view of ‘Frisco coming in from Oakland on the ferry is probably the finest in the world. This beautiful city is on a great mountain slope and all before you. And what a great city it is! The harbor is full of ships and the sky full of planes. We were lucky to get off quickly. The planes are all full and passage is difficult to get.

Don’t know how long we will be away, but probably get back the 10th. Will probably stay in Hawaii a week or ten days. Our path has been made easy and the red tape cut by getting at the top ranking admirals. I got by without more injections - which wasn’t so bad. It should be an amazing sight coming into the Hawaiian Island in the early morning. Am anticipating the trip with keenest interest - wonderful experience.

I guess our little redhead is about ready to start on her journey and will be thrilled. Walter might ask Dr. Brun to use a football ticket if one is available. Tell Margie to be a good girl and do as mother says. Think Kitty would be happier back at Roland Park next year – what do you think? Take good care of Fagie. Will wire you tomorrow. You may get it before the letter! But I told you in advance.

Love and kisses to my five sweethearts,

Daddy x x x x x x x x x