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, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. March 1909

My Dear Son,

…Let me know if you get better meals at your new boarding house. When we sit down to a good dinner Papa will often say I wish my boy could have some of this dinner. I hope you get good meals.

Mrs. B. came up Sunday. Stanley's 6 months were up and he took a trip to St Louis. She says Dr. Schwald wants to sell out. But Stanley don't think he will stay if Schwald goes away. Dr. Schwald has a boy to look after the horses and hitch up. He wanted Stanley and himself to do that work and save four dollars. Stanley told him he would never do anything in that line of work. Schwald done it a few times himself, then had to get the boy back. Then he wanted him to keep fires in the office. Stanley told him he was no office boy. If there was coal, he would put it on. But he would not carry coal.

Stanley don't want to go in partners with him as it will cost too much to buy his share. He believes he would rather take the $75 a month he promised when he went there. Mrs. B. says she don't want S. to put in another winter like he has done this winter. I have an idea he will get married soon. She says he has bought two suits of clothes, kept himself and has saved $150. He had two operations to perform when he came back from St Louis. Cut a finger off a boy and if gangrene had sit in, he would cut the hand off. The other operation two toes that had grown together and he was going to cut one off. Strange he would leave patients like that. They might be dead before he got back.…

Your loving Mother


March 1, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. March 1909

My Dear Son,

…You ought to have seen him [Papa] sporting a large diamond around town yesterday. He bought one the other day. He says he is going to wear it. He did not pay quite as much for it as he did for yours. Have you ever worn yours. Papa put his in his tie.

Mr. Winner got fired. He was in a wreck last week.

Mrs. B. said Polly had a card from you. And Mrs. Gornal had one and Mrs. Smith said she had one from you.

Suites in the Bell are worth $20, 25, 27. etc. and not very nice. I believe if you see what you like I would get it there.…

I have 28 little chickens out. I think they will be ready for frying by the time you get here. Won't be long now til you are home, soon be your birthday.…

Several railroad men has been telling Papa that you have a fine reputation in Sedalia. One said you were the smartest boy in Sedalia.…

Your loving Mother


March 8, 1909

1323 E. 5th St

Sedalia, Mo.

March 8, 1909

My Dear Son,

…I met Mrs. Maltby in Annie Cravens last week. She says where is our boy. I said in Baltimore. She said you were the only one that she knew went to Baltimore. She was having some dresses made and she wanted them made so as she would look as thin as it would be possible to have her. I said to her you are not too fat. I wish I was fatter. She said you ought not to wish that. God might take you at your word and make you fat. These fat people want to be thin and thin ones fat. Never satisfied.…

Kate is very anxious for us to get out. She says it don't look much like we were getting out when we are sitting here. I told her when we sold it we would not get out till spring as we had all our coal and wood in.… They rented this other place for $12. Rents are pretty high. Hiram Carter said to Papa the other day, I thought you were going to give me a chance at that house. He said I would have given you $900. It is a nice little place. Buckley said Hiram could have paid cash for it. I would sooner Meyers have it.

Mrs. Hauptly is beginning to find out that she has had a nice house. She had a carpenter come to the house to see if he would build a shower for her just like ours and she would pay him $13 rent for it. Mr. Hauptly says he would sooner live in a tree than rent from some people. They will find few that will do for them like Papa had done. It looks fine since he had it papered and varnished and molding put in. I would sooner live there than any place in town.

Got a petition up to have walks put in Marvin. That will improve it a good deal.

Gornal says he believes they have got a buyer for theirs. Papa says what are you going to do. He says don't know, maybe go to Kansas City. They would both like to go there.…

My dear boy I don't see any use in my going to Baltimore to be examined when there is nothing out of the ordinary the matter with me. I had been unwell for about 3 months. Last about 2 weeks. Then stop for a few days then return. But I was feeling well. It has been stopped for a week now, and I am feeling fine, not a pain anywhere for which I thank God. Now as I am feeling as well, it would be a very trying ordeal to me to be subject to examination. I appreciate your love and thoughtfulness.

Papa says for you to please yourself in the way of a spring suit, but I would say I believe I would have black patent leather shoes and some nice suits. See what you look best in most becoming color, get the pants larger and longer. I want to see you looking fine. Professor, like. Get something quite different from last summer.

Mrs. Lewis came over the other day. She says to Papa, you got fatter and bigger, growing all the time. He is feeling fine and a great appetite. And so do I and so are you. Haven't we a great deal to be thankful for.

They say Engineer Calkins has bright disease and the doctors say he can not live over 18 months. He worries over it a good deal. He works when he can and every trip he works he thinks it will be his last.…

Well it is time you were telling us some more good news about your exams and lots of things. What did Dr. Mall say about the articles you wrote. You ought to get a good position when you get through. Well don't forget to tell us all the good news. It is a great treat here. Papa has put that letter from that Doctor to you among his other much cherished papers.…

Your loving Mother


March 9, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

March 9, 1909

My Dear Boy,

…I was sorry that Taft could not be punished without inflicting it on so many others. As I feel satisfied that many will get enough punishment during his administration, but he and the few others will be living in luxury, draining the lifes blood from the workers. And it won't be drained by them like you have drained your fingers of blood for the benefit of science and humanity. For you will find that they will reap and not sow.…

Had rather an interesting case at Parsons the other night as we left on 6 doubleheader. I had Levesey for conductor and the general freight agent of Texas reported conductor for starting train before all the passengers was on and the engineers for not paying any attention to whistle signals to stop. He claimed in his report that there was about 12 passengers, about 7 of them ladies, was trying to get on when train was in motion and it was dangerous practice. We all got letters about it. And told awer different storeys or side of the case and it develops that there was no one but himself and wife that had to get on and they had been visiting instead of getting on after leaving dining room. Station agent, brakeman, porter, etc. and conductor who attend to that business all stated that he and wife was only ones left. Of course we stopped as soon as we got signal to stop. N.J. Finney was right beside the engine when we made the stop, so I think the agent will not be so handy in reporting after this.

…Mama and I can not see the same way as you see about moving. If we had to come to Baltimore and rent 15th St. it would be a constant worry on our minds. If we could sell it would be different. Further I think we could sell it better if we lived in it and I could fix it up a little as I went along and make it look better.…

Mama is going to get you fat this summer. She is looking well and feeling good. She says she is not coming to Baltimore. She says she is alright but if you think she had better come I will see that she comes and you know who is Boss at this house. Well I must close wishing the best boy on earth the best success.

Say don't you want some money soon. Don't be backward. All is for you I have got.

Your affectionate Father


March 10, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

March 10, 1909

My Dear Son,

…You will hardly feel at home at 15th St. Papa told them (Hauptly) that we had sold and had decided to live at 15th. She hated it awful bad to have to move. She wondered if someone would build her a new house as she hated to go into these old dirty houses. She wanted us to rent down town somewhere. The old man said they would get out just as soon as they could.

Papa went out yesterday to plant some grape vines. She never came out. The old man came out. He said they were out looking for a house Saturday but could not find one. He said his wife always wanted to live in a street where she had the nicest house. I am not sorry for her. She never appreciated the house till now. She will find out now that she had a cheap house and a very comfortable one. Rents are pretty high.

Martha Letts raised the rent on that old house where Dammon used to live from $13 to $15 and the people moved out. And now it has been empty a couple of weeks. Mrs. Meyers wants $12 for hers. It is still empty since Mamie Murphy moved out. I think $10 is a big price for that house.

…I sat a hen yesterday. So I hope they hatch good so as you can have fried chicken when you come home.

Your loving Mother

When you get your new suit be sure to get your pants longer than last summers suit. Goodbye and God bless my dear boy and may he lead and keep you all the way through life.


March 15, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

March 15, 1909

My Dear Son,

…Glad to hear you had got through with your exams for the time being and that you done fine in them.

I look at it in a little different light from what you do about exams and grades. I think the man with the best grades has the best foundation and the best and smartest men by their grades we know their ability. Stanley for example, hadn't good grades and not much besides. If your grades had not been good at high school I would have felt discouraged about your future welfare. Probably now your time might be employed to better advantage, but good grades might be the means of getting you a good position, and if there was one open for you I would take it sooner than go out to fight life's battles alone. At least take it for a while till you would get more competant. And then it would be easier for you after you had built up a reputation. That is what I think about it.

That was some mighty fine news to me to hear you beat that professor. It must have been a terrible blow to him. What did he say. And you were willing to admit you know nothing about it if you were wrong. That would stun him I should think to think that it would be him that should admit he know nothing about it. Has he said anything more about it. It is great if you can beat your teachers. I am certainly proud of my boy.

Mr. Meyers is very sick in St. Louis Hospital. Ervie went down, and phoned for the Mother to go down as his Father was very sick. He can hardly get his breath. They say he has kidney and heart trouble. They had to keep him under the influence of morphine. It is going to take him all his time to get well. He looked pretty bad before he went away. And Mr. McVey is pretty low. He was bleeding at the lungs the other day. Did not think he would last very long.…

Mrs. Hauptly has not got a place yet. She talked as if the boys might buy it for them weeks ago but they had a litter and they don't want to buy. I wish she could hurry and get out. I think it will be nice up there.

Your loving Mother


March 16, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

March 16, 1909

My Dear Boy,

…I would like to inflate you with "hot air" for your accomplishment both with exams and professors, but Mama has beat me to it. I will just supress my feelings and give my place to her as she is feeling mighty fine over her boy's attainments.

Besides I want to fool her as she said when I sat down to write now "for hot air" in reading your letter and statements that you were going to take it easy and not try for grades. I think it would be impossible for you to do it. It is against your nature. And you can't very well reverce yourself for ever since you were a little boy you always wanted to beat in games etc. You remember how you used to cry if I beat you in little games at home and while I think it would be wrong for you to hurt yourself by over study, etc, to accomplish supremacy I think a man is not much who has not some of this ambition about him, and show what he has in him.…

Best wishes for best boy on Earth.

Your affectionate Father


March 19, 1909

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

April 19, 1909

Well My Boy,

…Have got things about straightened out about the house etc. and am breathing the air of freedom. Never felt better and with less on my mind. Almost free from property responsibilities. Meyers paid $300 on the 5th Street place which makes me a good loan on it. Hauptlys paid $500 on the 15th. So you see I have not much to trouble me on either place. They both have straight loans with priviledge of paying $100 more at interest paying dates. So there is not much trouble attached to it.

In regard to investments in South America. If you know any one that you could trust for information, I think it would be fine place to make an investment. You might find out what you can do about it. The gold mine stock you mentioned some 3 weeks ago has not paid anything yet but think it will next month.

I will look up Harpers Magazine and read the article on surgery.

Say Roosevelt has been criticizing Debs etc. on the "outlook of N. York." Debs is going to reply on May 1st. I think it will be good reading. I may send you the papers till then if they don't consume to much of your time.…

If your plans are made up for this summer state them especially in regard to coming.…

Your affectionate Father


March 23, 1909

1323 E. 5th St.

Sedalia, Mo.

March 23, 1909

My Dear Son,

Glad to hear of fine exams but not at risk of your health. I hope you are feeling fine as that is how we are here after a couple of good hard days working and looking for a house to rent.

You will be surprised to hear that we have sold 15th St. property to Mrs. Hauptly for $1,500. So you have no home now. They hunted for a house for a month. Couldn't find anything that would suit them so they decided to buy. $500 down. There was $200 she could not get till 1st of May. She thinks the boys will help her pay it off. Papa is pleased to get rid of both of them. Now he has a free hand.

We were out today and yesterday looking for a house. You never saw such old dirty places for $13 and $14. Finally we come accross a nice house. I like it fine, it is a double house but very nice and nicely arranged for two families, and it is only $8 per month. We were surprised how cheap it was. Young married couples in now and they think it is fine. Mrs. Bremer owns it. You will probably know it. It is on South Maccahusti [Massachusetts] St. (I don't know how to spell it) on a paved street. Papa has only about 2 blocks to walk to get on the train or off. Close to the narrow gauge crossing.

I like it fine, but Papa wants me to kill off all my chickens and sell my little ones. I have 11 or 12 but they would be nearly ready for frying when you come home. What do you say. If you don't care much for chicken I might quit keeping them and buy one once in a while. The yard is not so large there.

There are 4 rooms in the house, 3 downstairs and one upstairs. It is very cosy and nice and if we had gone to 15th St. Papa would have worked all the time. Now he can rest. I think we done pretty well out of 15th. I don't think we will get moved this week as the parties can't get out for a few days. Houses are all filled, any that are any account. We were fortunate to get this one, and it is convenient to stores. If we had gone to 15th I would have had to furnish the front room, bought everything for it, would have cost $50. So when you come home you will find it a nice comfortable place. You can sleep upstairs. We just fixed up the papers today.…

Mr. Meyers is very low, I believe at deaths door. Came home from the hospital Saturday. Was very bad when he came home. Got homesick, would not stay any longer. Then when he landed in Sedalia he did not know where he was at. Fetched him home in a carriage. Since Sunday he has not been conscious. Doesn't know any of them.…

Your loving Mother


April 1, 1909

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. April 1909

My Dear Boy,

…He was telling me that he had been talking with Bothwell about me how I saved money and the way I was educating you. Bothwell thought it was grand and only knew of one engineer beside me who had done as well for himself and his children.…

Say Walter I think I have got you another job if you will take it. At least I would like your advise on the matter. About a week ago I saw a man sawing wood next door north of us. I went to see if he would saw ours. He seemed strange, could not talk very well and he was a feeble looking young man. I left him sawing for I could not understand him. Yesterday Mama went to the house wheir he had sawed the wood to find out about him so he wood saw awers. They told her wheir he lived or wheir his sister lived. And it proved to be wheir we or you used to get our milk last summer. So I went to see her. She told me how he got hit on the head with a piece of lumber when he was young and he has never been right since. Sometimes he believes that he is Jesus Christ and that his mother who is dead appointed him to be Christ. Doctors used to tell them he could not live. Do you think Dr. Cushing could do anything for him? He is truly a sad case.

Your affectionate Father


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