It’s said that there is nothing more dangerous than a humiliated man, and I suppose that could be true, but in the case of Andrew Kehoe, I think there was more to it than just one humiliation. Kehoe had shown violent tendencies since he was a child. Now, I’m not saying that every angry child will grow up to be a monster, but it might be something to monitor. If the violence becomes worse with age, there could be something wrong that needs to be addressed.
Andrew Philip Kehoe was born on February 1, 1872 in Tecumseh, Michigan. He was part of a large family. Kehoe showed violent tendencies early on. He tended to blame others for his troubles, which I think is also a common trait in troubled people. Kehoe was notified in June 1926 that his mortgage was going into foreclosure. Andrew Kehoe had been on the school board as treasurer. After his defeat in the April 5, 1926, election for the township clerk Kehoe lost it. Because of his association with the school board, Kehoe set his sights on the Bath School as a target to voice his frustrations. It was the last straw. Kehoe began secretly buying explosives. He hid them on his father’s farm and under the school. On May 18, 1927, Kehoe murdered his wife Nellie Price Kehoe. He then blew up his farm, saying to the firemen as he drove away that they should go to the school instead. Then Kehoe drove off.
Kehoe made a sign and hung it on the fence at his farm, saying “Criminals are made, not born.” It was typical of his belief that all of his troubles could logically be blamed on other people, or even on chance events. He never took the blame for his problems himself. Following the bombing of his farm, Kehoe went on to set off the bombs that he hoped would completely destroy the Bath school, and kill everyone in it. Kehoe was disappointed to see that an additional 500 pounds of dynamite that had been set to go off at the same time as the other explosions, failed to detonate. Only a section of the front of the school blew up. Nevertheless, it was enough to kill 38 students and 6 teachers. To this day, the Bath School Massacre remains the deadliest school disaster in history, and it came long before the recent school disasters that so many blame on guns. No guns were used, except maybe to kill his wife, but there is no mention of that in the stories of this disaster either. After the bombing of his farm and the Bath School, Kehoe detonated more explosives in his truck killing himself and four other bystanders. Andrew P Kehoe was a local farmer and school board treasurer. Kehoe was well educated, respected, and was an accommodating neighbor and friend. But behind his ordinary demeanor was a narcissistic sadist seething with rage, resentment, and paranoia. To say that something in his life was to blame for his rage is really far fetched. To say that he was mentally ill might be more accurate. It’s hard to say if counseling could have helped either. It is something we will never know.
Forms of discipline have changed over the years…from spankings to time out, and we all have our own ideas about what works and what doesn’t. I was looking at some pictures of my father-in-law’s 75th birthday party, when I came across one of his sister and brothers. Esther was the oldest of the three younger children, my father-in-law’s half siblings, and while I’m not sure that she ever felt like she was the boss, she apparently decided that she was going to take her brothers by the ear and straighten them out…probably for picking on her, if I know them.
That picture reminded me of the times, probably more of them than I wanted to think about, whne I was hauled home in such a fashion. During the time that I was growing up, bringing a child home by the ear for the purpose of a spanking, or for washing their mouth out with soap for some serious verbal infraction of the behavioral code we were to live by, was quite common. Of course, the soap was safe to use in the mouth then too. With the chemicals it has now, I wouldn’t chance that today…and I really hated it a lot back then too.
The biggest problem with being dragged home by the ear is the humiliation of it all. First, you are being dragged down the street by your ear. And, if that isn’t bad enough, everyone knows that when you get home, you are going to get a spanking. Talk about humiliating!! You would think a kid would do whatever it took so they would never have to go through that humiliation again. Not necessarily so. We knew better than to cuss as kids…I mean that was like having a death wish, but there were other things, like calling your sister names, and such…not cool and definitely not allowed. That would get you the soap thing!!
I know that everyone feels differently about the forms of discipline that were used in bygone days, but I feel like the way I was disciplined, made me the person I am today. I have no misconceptions about how difficult I was as a child. I was a stubborn child, and it would be my guess that I got more than my fair share of the discipline of the day.