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.
c. November, 1909
My Dear Son,
…Polly said Stanley got mad because she told him she was going to get married. He told her she had better stay with her mother for a few years yet.
I was over at Lewis's the other day. They wanted to know about your girls Miss Stanley and Polly B. They said Miss S. thought lots of you and you thought lots of Polly when you were at school.
Your loving Mother
November Payday, 1909
Well My Boy,
Got your hookworm treatise yesterday and letter today. It is nice to discover something like the hookworm theory. It will surely benefit those poor sufferers besides bringing their discoverer into prominence. I wish it had been you, but even if it was not you have youth and ability before you and a wide field to work in and I am satisfied you like your work and is theirfore reasonable to expect greater things than that of you. I can't conceive of anything that should produce so much joy and pleasure as to have an high and difficult object to attain and to keep getting it step at a time. Their don't seem much in life to look forward to if you don't have some specific object in view.
At present the lot of an engineer is rather dismal on the Katy. The Management is trying to deprive the men over 60 years of age of their seniority rights. In Texas they have taken old men of runs 5 and 6-9 and 10 and the runs are not so hard their as here and they can do the work fine and they have put them on runs much harder with worse engines. The men are going to take their matter up as we consider it a violation of our schedule. It is possible that some get to old to work, but they are to young to die from old age. I suppose to kill them would not be lawful, to penshion them to expensive. So the problem is what can be done with them. I am glad I am not in that condition but many is. And I feel proud to think that you will never have to be humiliated like them. Well I have not had any desision from Chairman of General Comitee about 9 and 10, but feel confident that it will come out all right.
I would like to see you in your new suite and to heare you talk to Cushing. But I would sooner here of you getting the apointment you desire and that you was doing justice to him and the school and yourself in the new place. But if you don't get it, don't be discourged. Do something else or try again.
We have been haveing some good runs. Last time on 6 it was a good wet one. Rained in torrents all the way from Parsons to Sedalia. We was just wringing wet through. When I got to the bunk house striped of everything. Went to bed and dryed cloths wile I slept.…
Mama never looked as good as she does now. She must be 8 or 10 pounds heavier than when you was here. Calkins has come to the Katy Hospital. Was thinking of going to see him this P.M. but it is raining so will postpone till the next time.… With best wishes and 9 million kisses to the best boy on earth.
Your affectionate Father
c. November or December 1909
My Dear Son,
…The meetings were very good and makes one realize that there is more important things to live for than the things of this life. The things of eternity, the future home of the Christian. Sometimes we are apt to forget in our busy life the One Who loved us even unto death.
I have not seen any of B.'s since last letter I wrote to you. Polly wanted me to come and see her nice clothes. She said there wouldn't be even a piece of cake. She said Gornal wanted to know if it was going to be a dry wedding. When they were going away, Papa said I think Foraker a pretty fine young man. The mother said I don't. I believe they will live with the mother this winter. Polly said they could not get a house on the west part and they might go to boarding.
I have my little heater going and it is fine and comfortable here. More so than we have ever been. If it is not warm enough upstairs, we will get a little oil stove.
My neighbor sleeps up stairs. She is very clean. She washed this morning and scrubbed both porches all over. She is not afraid of a bit of work.
I would like to see you in your new suit. I know you will look well in it. You wear it and look nice. Send us a piece of it. Papa says it is best to get tailor made and he believes he will get one. That will be a terrible change all at once, but it has not happened yet.…
Your loving Mother
c. late November 1909
My Dear Son,
Always glad to hear from you and that everything is well with you as that is how it is here at present. Thank God for his goodness to us all.…
…Papa has gone at 5:50. He will be home Sunday. He thought sure he would have heard something about your getting to see Dr. Cushing. I believe if I were you I would just speak for yourself not ask Dr. Mall or any one else. I hope you are successful in getting this desired place but if you can't get it, it will be for the best. All things work together for good to them that love God. Trust Him. Cast all your cares upon Him for he careth for you.
Well Thanksgiving is over. Papa was in Parsons. My new neighbor had a few for dinner. She had turkey and a ham. She asked me to come in for dinner, but I did not care to go. She fetched me a plate full of good things and a big piece of turkey. I did not care much for the turkey. It was rather tasteless, more like it was stewed than baked. I kept some for Pa. He did not like it so I finally put it in the fire. She is a pretty good cook and she thinks so too. I can eat anything she cooks. It is clean. She is a great talker. She is an aunt of Harry Phelan's. I like her fine.
Friday Mrs. Weir came down and invited Papa and I for supper. They had a duck. Mr. Weir told her to ask us to help eat the duck. We went. She had a nice supper, then we all went to the tabernacle so I guess I will have to invite them for supper. Mark was off hunting had been gone all day and was coming back on No 4. He had some one with him. She says she never worrys about him and don't even think about him when he is gone. She went off with us to the meeting, never thought I suppose anything about him. I don't believe I could have been so composed. I guess when you have only one you are more anxious.
Papa was telling me that Weir was telling some man in Parsons that Papa has one of the finest sons in this country. He said he wished his son would be half as thoughtful to his mother as you were to yours. He would be proud. He says he told his wife she was not raising Mark right and she would have to do different when she asked Mark to do anything. She would want it done right away so he told her when she asked him to do anything to not hurry him as she did not know what was in his mind, what he was thinking about and to give him time. So she is doing Mr. Weir's way now and he says Mark is a far better boy (I expect if she waits very long to get Marks mind empty he'll be gone).
I went with Mrs. Minnier to hear Rev. Jacoby give his life experience. He was pretty tough and rough, drunkard, gambler and everything that was bad. His father ran him away from home. He goes preaching with Dr. Lorey now. There is wonderful power in the blood to raise a man from the lowest depths of sin till the place he now occupies.
I took your stick pin to Ormands. He gave me a check for it. Have you been able to get one you liked.
I did not want you to get a black suit. I am glad you got a rough kind. I always liked rough goods. You ought to look well in it. I am sorry I cut that piece out of your pants. I was sorry after I did it, but I never thought you would have to have them let out. It probably won't show with your coat on. You can wear them on the bad days.
Do you ever hear from Miss Stanley. I hardly know what you mean when you say my mind will be free about any such possibility (regard to Polly getting married). Why my mind has always been free since that time you went to Columbia, when you told me it was a story on Polly's side. You were young then and I did not want anything to come between you and a bright future but I would regret it very much if I thought I had done anything to put between you and the girl you loved, even Polly. Of course any objections I would have it would be for your sake. But when it comes to real love just marry the girl you want, no matter what father or mother says.
Mrs. B. says Foraker can hardly wait from morning till night to see Polly. Now if you were that far gone you would not have so much mind for your work. Papa said the other day I would hate to see my boy tied to Polly. I think she will be lazy. When he read your letter yesterday tell Walter he is not too late for Polly yet.…
Your loving Mother
November 8, 1909
My Dear Boy,
…I am shy of news and will have to depend on Mama the little newsgatherer to give you the news. I don't know how she finds it for she never goes out much. But she gets it just the same.
Well they turned me down on runs 9 and 10 because of seniority. Of course I expected it of them. It is now up to the General Chairman for his decision. He will probley repeat the dose as that has been the custom. But I claim it is wrong. I claim seniority on respective districts is right. But between 2 districts milage is the factor that determines the right to runs between the districts involved, and as I was the senior one on my district to ask for run when it was created, I claim the right to it. Newrick did not take 9 and 10. At present it is filled with the two McDonalds and Wesley Ross. Lydie is on 5 and 6 with Dillon and me. I saw the General Chairman in Parsons, the other day and told him to hurry his decision.
Well I was just down town, left some more money in Bank for you to draw on at your convenience. I met D. Hoffam (the lawer) when I was getting it. He asked about you. He said you was getting a fine opertunity to make good and as you was highly educated good results would shurly follow.…
Your affectionate Father
November 9, 1909
My Dear Son,
…Well the parties moved in next door and I like her very well. She weighs 163. She says she used to be as thin as me, (she says I am fat enough). She is very clean, and a good talker. She is one of these that brags that she would die before she would give in, black eyes and hair, a very kind good hearted woman. I enjoy talking to her. No smell in the house, every place nice and clean up stairs and downstairs. Papa says the house smells different. (he says I had better go and see Mrs. Rose before the house begins to smell.) They have a graphone here. We are all very comfortable. He works at the M.K.T. [Missouri, Kansas, Texas] shops. They are thinking of building in spring. Rufus Smallwood and bride has come back, and they were sorry they missed getting this place. She said to Papa why didn't he keep it for them. I believe I like these people better, they are so nice and quiet.
Well Polly and the mother came down last night. Polly announced her wedding and invited us to the church. She is to be married day before Thanksgiving. She goes right from the church to the train. They are going to St. Louis for 3 or 4 days. She did not look very well. I guess she is worring. She wished it was over. She has got some fine clothes. She is going to be married in that lace she showed you once over white satin. She told us not to tell anyone. Papa said we will tell awer boy. She said don't for he would send me an awful card. There will only be a few at the church. Gornals and us and 2 or 3 more.
Papa says knives and forks are not enough for a present. He wants to buy her knives and forks, big and little spoons, cost about $10.50. What do you say?
The mother says Stanley is not doing much. She says he ought to leave. She says Schwalds practise is not much. He gets horses and corn and everything like that for his work. She says Stanley ought to get out of there. It is a poor place to live in. (Schwald used to have a fine practise and was making lots of money when Stanley was with him but everything is changed now). I believe Stanley is going to have a hard time to keep Ann and himself. I think he would have been better if he had not married till he had got something perminent.
Mrs. Minnier came in this morning to invite me to a prayer meeting at her house this morning so I went and it was very good. So I am going with her tonight to hear Dr. Lorey, successor to Mr. Moody.
You will be surprised to hear our butter woman quit us. It was not good the last times and I mentioned it to her and she got mad about it and sent me a card to get somebody else to supply me. So Papa has got another. I think it will be good. It was very bad last week. We could not touch it. I think she quit taking ice too soon.…
Your loving Mother
November 23, 1909
My Dear Son,
…Received your letter yesterday. Glad to hear of you feeling well and able to beat your professors. I did not consider it hot air but mighty fine news. We are looking forward to the time when we shall see and hear great things of you and we will be well repaid for your long absence away from home.
Mrs. B. came down. I would have liked to have told her, but I complied with your wishes. Be sure and tell us everything for that is better news to us than railroad news is to you.
Well Papa just came in, had a fine run as good as when you were on. Last time he came home he deadheaded to Parsons to hear Debs. He was delighted with his talk. I guess he will tell all about it. I don't think he will have much railroad news. If he has any I don't know of it. I do know this. That this is the month he makes 11 trips. But you know as well as me how hard it is to get him to lay off. He is always ready for any extra that comes along.
Well you will be surprised to hear that Polly's wedding has been declared off for the time being. Foraker is down with Typhoid fever. They took him to Maywood Hospital last Friday, so we can't tell what the outcome will be. Mrs. B. came last Thursday and also came yesterday. She says she has spent $300 for Polly's clothes and things for her house. She paid $27 for one hat, $65 for two suits. She did not say what her white satin cost. The white satin was only to be used when invited to swell occasions. And Foraker was going to order her one of the swellest theatre cloaks he could get so as she could wear it over this white dress. (If Polly doesn't have more occassion than she has had she won't need it very much.) The mother talked as if they had been makeing too much over the wedding and it might have come for a purpose. Polly stays every evening with Foraker.
It is surprising the way the mother talks about Polly. Sometimes she says Polly has a sharp tongue. She has had more heartache in the past 3 months than ever in her life. She says Foraker came out one night and Polly was not in a very good humor. He said what is the matter with Polly. We will have to lock her in a closet. The mother said not lock her but tie her tongue. I have been getting it with her sharp tongue but soon you will be getting it. She says if Foraker or anybody had said the things Polly said to her she never would forgive them. They have been building big castles in the air. How soon they can crumble, it sometimes takes only a slip. She says there is a great weight of her mind since Foraker has been sick. Polly seems to take it all right.
Stanley is not doing much. Foraker wanted Stanley to come and see him. He said he believed Stanley would pull him through.
We went out the other day to visit the east Sedalia folks. We went to the Hospital to see Calkins. You would not know him. His face is so thin and his stomach looked like a big pouch of water. He says he swells up every night. He says the Doctors say he has heart trouble, dropsy, Brights disease, and I don't know what all. He seemed cheerful. He says Mrs. Dandy you don't look a day older than first time I saw you. I felt very sorry for him. I don't see how he could get well.
We went to Millers. You never saw a dirtier place except in Millers. The company wants to compromise with him. She gave them the lowest dollar she would take, $3000 and Miller he gave them his lowest dollar he would take, $4,500.… Then we came to Kate's. She seemed alright. She has lots of chickens. But you could scarcely walk on the walk for dirt. I was glad we had got out of there.
Then we went to Mrs. Meyers. Everything nice and clean and the sweetest baby. She gave me its picture. They were asking about you. Hiram Carter is down with typhoid fever and is pretty bad. And Willie Bains in Letts store has just got over it. Miss Lunz called there this morning for me to go to a prayer meeting at Mrs. Weir's but I had gone. She was asking about you and said she had a couple of cards from you. Her Father doesn't gain much strength. Just able to get around. I believe you ought to send the old man another card. It will please him.
I often go to the meetings with Mrs. Minnier. She…has quit eating breakfast for fear of getting fat.
I am glad you like your suit. I thought somewhat of getting a suit. But Papa (J.D.-Mama) says I don't go out much. Not much good to do so.
You get you a nice pair of shoes and not get cold with your summer ones and I think they look out of place with a heavy winter suit.
…I sent you the Democrat. Do you want us to have them send it to you? It would cost about $5 per year. If you have a sample of your suit send it.…
Your loving Mother
November 24, 1909
Well My Boy,
I have just got home read and enjoyed your letter.… I deadheaded in Parsons Saturday to hear Debs. He was certanly fine. You must hear him if he ever comes near your way.
I am going out this P.M. with Mama. I am going to get her a new suite etc. She is looking fine and feeling good. You have almost persuaded me by telling me about your new suit that I should have one at the same place. I think I shall need one. Some of these days could you select me a good pattern of cloth. If so let me see your selection.…
Mama says the determined stand you take before those doctors comes from me. Well I think it's a good one if you know you are right.
Your affectionate Father
c. December, 1909
My Dear Boy,
…Walter, I feel rather sorry to think that the clerk or registrar you speak of at Johns Hopkins got in trouble account of you. If I understood it right he told you for your advantage about your grades so you could have it remided did he not. If he did I would help him to get out of his trouble if I was in your place.
Well I trust you get what you desire in working for Dr. Cushing. It would be to bad if you missed it seeing you enjoy it so well. At the same time we can't all have all we want. Some of us must take what we can get and if unsuccessful in getting what we want we must try and get the next best thing. I think we value a good thing more if it has been hard to get. The old saying come easy go easy is often the case. I feel satisfied that you will get what you desire for I believe you will dig hard to get it. Then you can feel proud over it for you will have justly earned it.
Did we understand in your last letter right. We concluded that you had been teaching surgery in Dr. Cushing's class. If so that looks good. Well I must close as I have filled 2 sheets, so goodbye and God bless the best boy on Earth which is my boy.
Your affectionate Father
c. December 1909
My Dear Son,
…Well Papa has just gone. I must put you on to his game. He went up town. I told him to fetch a tablet so he brought a little one and wrote you two sheets. He says Walter will think I wrote him a lot this time, two sheets. I got a little tablet so he will think I did well. So you can tell him about it. He was saying the other day he believed he had a hook worm. I told him I believe he had too as he knew how to hook the money in.…
I thought you told me in your last letter you did not want a box. I did not think you would care for it as you were getting such good meals. I think you had better eat fresh meals in place of this stale food as it gets pretty old by the time you get it. But Pa says you shall have it. He says he hated to let Xmas go past without sending you something. He says I have been looking in all the jewelry stores for something and did not know what to get him. I said I didn't feel anything about not sending him anything as I don't think he needs anything. I didn't want you to send us anything as we don't need anything and it is only a waste of money to send it.
Mrs. B. came down Friday evening had supper. She said they had a letter from you but did not seem elated over it. (What did you say.)
She said Foraker did not have much fever now. Getting along fine. He weighed 115 lbs when he got out of bed. He has gained about 10 since then. He wants to go right out to Broadway when he leaves the hospital. The mother thinks they ought to wait while Polly says she will have to go to work if she don't get married right away.
They want to live at Broadway with Mrs. B. but Stanley told her to not let them, to make them go to themselves as she could not put up with Foraker's attention to Polly. She says sometimes Foraker says little things that makes Polly mad. She said she was mad one night and said she had a good mind to throw his ring at him and give him up. She thinks Polly likes him because of him being such a good Christian.
Jim Dow called B.'s up, wanted to know where Polly was. He went downtown after her.… She told him she was as good as married. So she went to Foraker and told him about Jim, how he thought she was the only girl and Foraker said he doesn't love you as well as I do. She said you were so slow last summer when she went riding with Jim and could not see anything and Foraker cried. Next morning Stanley went to see Foraker and he said Polly doesn't think I love her as much as Dow does and he cried. (I don't think Dow ever made much love to her but she was trying to be mean with F.) She said Dow looked fine weighed 210.
Mrs. B. said Polly went to a funeral in the country with their minister. He is a widow and she had a fine time. She believed she could win the heart of the preacher. The preacher told Foraker he was getting the choice of the Congregation.
Another pretty good thing I must tell you she said when F. could sit up they pinned him in blankets. She said he looked awful and big shoes on his feet. Polly kept hinting about getting a bathrobe for him. The mother knew it would come out of her pocket, so she thought she would get it and a pair of slippers and get the honor herself. So she paid $2 for slippers and $5 for the bathrobe and gave them to him. He was tickled about them. She told Stanley what she paid and he said, Ann bought him a dollar blanket (cotton) and made him one so when Xmas came Foraker bought a cut glass dish and a box of chocolate for Polly. (Sent a nigger to get them) Polly eat all the candies before she came home and showed the mother the dish, and she said what did he send me, nothing. She was terrible mad raged and foamed all day and night. Stanley and Ann came up. Still she called him and all of them everything. She said after her buying him $7 worth that he could not buy her a handkerchief. She said she never was so crushed in her life. The funny part Polly eat all the candies before she got home (if that had been you you would have been afraid to eat one for fear we did not get our share). She told Polly she did not think she could ever like him (I'll bet Foraker will have a hot time of it with those two women. I don't think Polly cares very much for him).…
They were at Gornals one night and Gornal said Polly I would not marry an American. Why don't you marry an English man. She said who would I marry. He said Walter Dandy. She said Walter would not have me. He will be looking out for some moneyed lady. Mrs. Gornal said like Daisy Washington. She is going to be a moneyed lady some of these days. She said he used to send her cards. Mrs. B. said he had quit sending cards to girls and Mrs. Gornal says and I believe to married women too. He hasn't sent me any this Xmas. Mrs. B. said she was mad leaving you to Daisy (I just laughed). Mrs. B. seemed very anxious to know what you were going to do when you got through. More anxious than usual to hear about you.
I just heard that Mrs. Bremer's boy has pneumonia fever. I am just sitting at my little heater. It keeps this place fine and warm. We are very comfortable here.… Glad you have such a good boarding place. I am glad you are not worrying about grades or anything else. Goodbye and God bless you and give you the desires of your heart if it is for your good and his glory.
Your loving Mother