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 24, 1945

Here is another good January day and now 45. It doesn’t seem possible that time could have passed so quickly with the sweetest girl in the world. We’ll just have to make the most of the remaining years. Even our baby’s a big girl now!

The time has rolled along quickly and we are now ready to leave tomorrow to go to Guatemala again, perhaps for two days. I couldn’t turn down a Presidential request. I have turned one down when in Guatemala, since it would have consumed too much time.

Have seen a lot of patients here, some of whom are coming to Baltimore. Revilla will have very good material when he comes. Perhaps he will invite us down sometime. Give my last lecture tonight.

Spent this morning inspecting the locks on the Panama Canal. It was wonderful - 4 ships went though in an hour. We watched the locks open and close and the mules pull the ships through the locks. General Newcomer, whose boy I had operated on, took us through and his engineer explained it all. He took us to Ancon, the big sentinel mountain at the entrance to the canal.

Last night we went to a party of Dr. Elmandorf, who was a Hopkins graduate in 1915. This afternoon, going to a cocktail party of General Hines, the ambassador. He was formerly chief of Veteran’s Bureau Hospitals. He is the one I should have operated on for tic douloureux, - but he was a Christian Scientist.

Have had two short swims and hope for a longer one this afternoon. Dr. Revilla’s sister in law takes me out each time - and last night took us to dinner at a “beer garden” - open and cool and very nice. Went to Colon Sunday, where many of his relatives were gathered and had some native food, which was very rich, and I couldn’t eat too much.

Went to Gorgas Hospital yesterday. Dr Herrick is now dead and the great hospital he created is in great disrepair and very dirty. Dr. James is also dead. I don’t quite know when I will get back. Much will depend on what will be done in Guatemala and how I get back from New Orleans.

Got a couple of Panama suits. Think you will like them.

Love and kisses and Happy Birthday,

Walter x x x x

March 4, 1945

Here we are again, all five of us! For a change we were on time and did not have to stand in line for either dinner or breakfast. And it’s really hot here. The sun beating down like summer. At the Jacksonville station, met several of the Philadelphia doctors who were here last year. We are playing golf this afternoon. So you see - and they commented likewise - that I am a very dutiful husband and father to write so promptly. One of them - DeLong – had no room on arrival and is bunking with me temporarily. Everyone is asking about poor Murphy. They all liked him. The manager told me they turned 250 people away this weekend. I have just been asked if I knew the (M) or Wasson’s and I was blank. You’re supposed to know them and to let me in on your friends.

Hope Walter is on his feet again and feeling normal. His enthusiasm for weddings is just like mine. One thing he takes after me! Did Margaret’s party wear you out? Mary probably had a grand time in Richmond. I thought of them as we passed through. Sleep was just creeping over. Don’t you wish Margy would be more like Mary - meaning perfect. She, too, is just like me! I guess you are responsible for the lemon! Tell Walter to look up the monkey’s cerebral circulation. The birds are making a big racket - the robins are in abundance. Write me with more promptitude - all five of you.


Daddy x x x x x x x

March 14, 1945

It looks like all men have an Achilles heel - perhaps two. But I haven’t found any for my little girl. Why did you marry such a one?

I never liked Brilops and he certainly didn’t make any contribution this time.

So glad Mary had such a nice visit with Kitty and could appraise her situation. It would be nice for both to go to Wellesley - I hope they do it. The New York trip sounds rather sophisticated, but you know best.

The weather continues perfect, the feet again are O.K. and golf continues, though not too good. Looks like I will continue a soft spot for Al. Last night the Holloways came over for dinner. He recalled the trip with you to Annapolis. She certainly is a lovely person - and has 11 children and looks about 35. Their boy in the army was with them. He now realizes his squandered opportunities at school and is hopeful of getting back into medicine before he is too old.

Am very proud of Walter’s test in chemistry. If he only knew, nothing makes me happier than his successes and Mary’s and Margy’s and Kitty’s. That’s what we live for!

Dr. De Long of Philadelphia, who roomed with me, left today. I liked him very much. And the Philadelphians are nice. They will be leaving during the next few days. There aren’t too many people here from other years. Mrs. Scott still remembers Margaret and how her little grandchild played with her. Have a good sunburn - to the belt with the sun kissed golf costume. Am writing Kitty. Glad to get Mary’s little note. Suspect she passed her physical 100%.

Love and kisses for all my sweethearts, and Fagie, if he is behaving.

Daddy x x x x

March 22, 1945

I miss my little girl more and more. When I walk to the beach, I wish my little girl were with me. And I wish I could give a Coca-Cola to the little gold digger who admitted why she met me on the 9th hole.

I don’t know why you haven’t received my last letter, written immediately after yours arrived. Have been waiting three days for this one to come. The weather here has been perfect every day - sunshine and warm and no rain. But I think your temperatures have been nearly as high. Have a 100% sunburn. Turned my ankle and am taking a day off. The Philadelphia crowd have gone and nearly all faces are new. I love the book and have read most of it already - one of the nicest books I have.

The other night, we met the President of the Philippines - Quezon - here for a medical checkup in Jacksonville. Brought there by a young medical man who had two years at Hopkins and finished off at Jacksonville. He remembered me and asked to see me. The President was a small, keen, charming man. Eyes so small they were mere slits.

So sorry Helen is quitting. I know perfectly well what will happen. She will not be active and will slump again into her nervous state. But I guess there is nothing to be done about it.

Got a letter from Winkenwerder in the Philippines. Dr. McLeod called me from Florence, N.C. to come down on my way home. Will arrive Monday morning at 7:15, but doubtless later. Hope I will get to see Kitty before she leaves. Glad you enjoyed Bob and Isabel. Tell Helen to spank Margy for me when she is bad.

Love and kisses. Will soon be back.

Daddy x x x x x

January 22, 1946

It isn’t fair that I haven’t written you before: it’s just on of Daddy’s weaknesses. Having a secretary ruins one’s letter writing – bad even before. I am always happy when I know how well you are doing in school. You are one of the few who will always make your mark, no matter where you are. Any help from your mother and me gives us the greatest pleasure. Mother has just written that you are coming home Feb. 6 so that is something big for us. Just think, Margaret is now 11.

Dr. Ravilla and I are having a great trip together. Panama is a very interesting place, but very hot, particularly in the morning and afternoon. The Canal Zone as you know is 5 miles on each side of the canal. Panama is just outside of the line. Our hotel is on the shist* that separates U.S. and Panama. Yesterday we motored to Colon and Cristobel on the Atlantic side. Coming down in the plane, one can see both termini and they look so close together – the Atlantic is on the left and the Pacific on the right – a beautiful sight. The ruins old Panama are about 5 miles away. Panama was burned to the ground by Henry Morgan the great pirate in 1671. A new site was selected and is the new Panama.

I have given one lecture, another tonight and another Thursday. Yesterday and today we saw a great number of patients – some will probably come to the U.S. for operations, others cannot for financial reasons. There is so much poverty and so much wealth – but that is everywhere. The president of Panama is a very fine man, but presidents in Central America are selected by the wealthy and therefore the poor remain unchanged. But that is not so different in the States, or at least until recently. One man who started a revolution a few months ago is held in prison – they can’t kill him because capital punishment is prohibited.

Friday we return. The original plan was to fly the Caribbean to Jamaica and Miami but the President of Guatemala sent a telegram and his ambassador to urge me to see a patient there. It was difficult to refuse. So we will retrace our steps. The plane ride down from Guatemala was so rough that we were anxious to go the smoother way. However there is only one stop returning, so we will be high and not so rough. It’s a quick way to travel, but I prefer the train. When the weather gets better, you can fly back to New York and get the experience. On our way from New Orleans to Florida a nice lady sat next to me. She had taken her daughter to Wellesley but there was no opening. Most of the girls here go to convents in the states, even when they are 10-12 years of age, mostly to know English while they are young. I hope my little sweetheart is well and happy.

Lots of love from Daddy who thinks there isn’t such a lovely sweet girl anywhere.

Daddy, xxxxx

* This word was not clear, but appears to be shist, a variant of the word schist. The Greek derivation is from the word meaning divided, cleft, etc. mem

March 5, 1946

Dr. Broyles has kept me so busy entertaining him that I haven’t had time to write. And my little girl’s letter has just arrived! More speed than usual - by far! It’s lovely here - sun in full blast, but a little crisp. Sleep under blankets.

I met a young lady – who was Miss Shipley - now Mrs. (Dr.) Hauser - who went to school with you both at high school and Goucher. She is very nice. Her brother was a patient of mine several years ago. She lives in Philadelphia and has a family. There are 41 Philadelphia doctors here with families.

Yesterday a plane (naval) fell in the water off the Inn. Planes and boats flew around the spot for hours. The bodies were finally found, but we could see nothing except the efforts.

There is a nicer crowd than usual here this year. The Scotts still talk about the angel. Of course, Ed can go to Marilyn, but what is Daddy going to do? We got to the Inn at 10 o’clock and were on the golf course half an hour later. The pool is under repair and won’t be open until later in the year, but the sunbathing is still good -- and the ocean. We are in the upper deck patio just above our old room on the beach. I saw the views of Palm Beach and of course I remember that I was once Caruso in my prime, and look at me now! I just can’t hold out! Perhaps when full time comes in, I had better have had a rich wife!!

I hope Walter gets good marks on his exams. I can’t say he hasn’t tried this time. But he certainly has been slow waking up!

Love to all my sweethearts and my best girls most of all.

Daddy x x x x x x x

March 14, 1946

Today is rainy, the first wet day we have had. It’s a steady all day rain. Only three more days remain. There hasn’t been much unusual. Today Ed hired a drive yourself car and ran out of gas and oil half way to Jacksonville. He had a miserable day. Guess Walter is off to the north. I appreciate how he felt when the exams were over, although it’s many years since my similar experiences. I wonder if it wouldn’t be well to get a new car and sell this one at a fairly good price. It served you quite well! Tell Margaret I have enough shells to keep her busy for some time. The Gammons were here when you called and I gave them your message. We played bridge and enjoyed the evening. I was a little frightened when I heard your voice - but just for a moment.

You should see the full moon on the water. The swimming pool is open. By the way, I arrive at 11:15 Monday morning. I think I told you that Ed’s chauffer (white) will meet us. So you won’t need to meet me unless you wish. I have heard that Huggins wasn’t going to come. He was very depressed about it. He also told me that Randall was not certain that he was interested in heading the campaign for money for Hopkins if they were going to cut out the part-times.

Soon be seeing you. Big hugs to the little girl and all.