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Michigan Scoundrels: An interview with author Norma Lewis
The rich history of the Wolverine State has a serious dark side. In the Detroit area, the Black Legion outdid the Ku Klux Klan in hate but remained secret until one of its leaders was implicated in a murder. John Harvey Kellogg of Battle Creek was equal parts physician and quack. Then there were the state's two self-proclaimed kings--James Jesse Strang, the leader of a Mormon group on Beaver Island, and Albert Molitor, the reputed illegitimate son of German royalty who established his own kingdom on Presque Isle. Michigan author and historian Norma Lewis present a gallery of the state's most despicable criminals, crooks, conmen and more.
Author and historian Norma Lewis lives in Grand Haven, Michigan. Michigan Scoundrels is her tenth book for Arcadia Publishing/The History Press.
Well, we are so delighted to have you. Now, I'm just going to jump right in and ask one quick question right up front, having read a little bit about you and your background. Is this in fact, your 10th book?
Norma Lewis (00:22):
Actually, it's the 10th Michigan book. I've also done 10 children's books.
Benjamin Morris (00:28):
Okay. So, let's just take that number and say, Norma, is this your 20th book?
Norma Lewis (00:33):
Benjamin Morris (00:38):
How on earth? I mean, first of all, that's amazing and I'm so delighted that you can take some time for us. I know that researching and writing is very time consuming, and I'm sure you have other projects on the go.
Benjamin Morris (00:51):
But tell me, I mean, how did you get to 20, what was your route to 20 books over the years? How did you get started?
Norma Lewis (00:59):
Well, I always wanted to do children's books, and they're extremely competitive, and it took me a long while to break into that, but I found the Arcadia Images of America Series, and I wrote a few books for that. And they just required that you live in the area you're writing about and come up with a new idea. So, that was how I broke in.
Norma Lewis (01:19):
And then that kind of grew into Wild Women of Michigan. And then Scoundrels just kind of seemed like a companion volume or whatever to that. Scoundrels are more fun to write about than nice people.
Benjamin Morris (01:35):
I'm sure our listeners are familiar with the adage that well-behaved women rarely make history. Right?
Norma Lewis (01:40):
Benjamin Morris (01:42):
And I believe it was also Tolstoy who said that all happy families are boring. So yes, write about the dysfunctional ones, please. But no, that is remarkable.
Benjamin Morris (01:56):
Now, for listeners who may not be aware, the Images of America Series is primarily based on the visual record of historical events and places. So, researchers will scour archives for photographs or picture postcards or any kind of visual record that we have of what was going on in a particular place at a particular time, and then present that with extremely detailed captions regarding the people or the events in question. They're wonderful resources. I use those in my own book and got a lot out of them.
Benjamin Morris (02:31):
Tell me what were some of your Images of America Series for the press?
Norma Lewis (02:36):
The first one was Grand Rapids: Furniture City, and then the Dutch Heritage of Kent and Ottawa County, Legendary Locals of Grand Rapids and Wyoming, Michigan. Wyoming is a suburb of Grand Rapids.
Benjamin Morris (02:51):
And so, were you able to make use of local historical archives or other researchers' material? Where did you find these old images that you were working with?
Norma Lewis (03:01):
Oh, I found them in museums, in historical societies. The state of Michigan has a wonderful library, and the Library of Congress has also been very useful.
Benjamin Morris (03:15):
They have incredible resources, and actually-
Benjamin Morris (03:18):
Very easy to search through, which helps if you're looking for something in particular, their metadata, as they say is quite, quite good as a rule.
Benjamin Morris (03:27):
So, let me ask you this, Norma, I'm going to ask you a terrible question. This question is the worst question, but I have to ask it. With 20 books under your belt. This is number 20, between numbers 1 and 19. This is like asking you, which is — of your favorite children. Which is the favorite book that you have worked on. Which book have you enjoyed working on more than any other?
Norma Lewis (03:51):
Scoundrels and Wild Women of Michigan.
Benjamin Morris (03:56):
Just flat out, no contest.
Norma Lewis (03:59):
Benjamin Morris (04:01):
Well, let me ask you this.
Benjamin Morris (04:23):
When you were doing your research, what kind of collaborations do you engage? Do you have folks who you can reach out to at these particular societies or librarians that you have worked with over the years within the decades that you've been doing this particular work? Where do you send out your kind of feelers when you have a new topic that you want to explore?
Norma Lewis (04:49):
Well, the Grand Rapids Public Library has an amazing local history department, and also it covers the rest of the state to a lesser degree. So, I start there. And then the University of Michigan also has incredible resources and Michigan State University.
Benjamin Morris (05:09):
And typically, when you take on a topic, do you find yourself traveling all over the state, or do you find that your resources tend to be fairly concentrated in one particular area?
Norma Lewis (05:22):
Well, most of my books have been concentrated in one particular area, but for the last two, I did travel around quite a bit. And that's the fun part. I always find something better than what I thought I was looking for.
Benjamin Morris (05:36):
Well, I'll tell you this, you definitely found a treasure trove of scallywags and rascals, and I believe the subtitle of your book is Rapscallions, which is one of my favorite words.
Norma Lewis (05:49):
Benjamin Morris (05:51):
It's marvelous. Michigan Scoundrels is your newest title, and it's like a smorgasbord, a buffet of some of the most colorful characters to ever grace the upper and lower Peninsulas up there. And I have to say, you have killers, of course, you've got some good old-fashioned murderers of the garden variety type. But you also have fraudsters, and you have bank robbers, and you have in I think what must be a first, certainly for Crime Capsule, fake kings, you have a collection of false monarchs in here. Tell us about those.
Norma Lewis (06:38):
Well, the first one was James Jesse Strang. He decided he was going to be the head of a Mormon group. And when the Mormons were forced out of Nauvoo, Illinois and the two leaders were killed, he took over. He saw that as the opportunity of a lifetime, and he proved it. He was able to dig up proof. Of course, he planted the proof, so that wasn't too difficult. He said an angel told him where to dig, but he didn't really need any help because he had buried it, so-
Benjamin Morris (07:25):
Norma Lewis (07:26):
And it referred to the Smith Brothers as the leaders, but there was one true prophet. And that, of course, was Strang himself, but that wasn't quite enough. He didn't just want to be head of the Mormons. He wanted to be king. So, he had himself crowned in a ceremony on Beaver Island. The people there weren't too happy about that. They resented him taking over the Mormons as well as taking over the island itself. So, he did get murdered, but it was worth it, in his opinion. I'm sure.
Norma Lewis (08:04):
I think someone could probably run the numbers on how many monarchs real or otherwise have been deposed from their thrones over the years. And it would be interesting to see percentage murdered or ousted versus those who died peacefully in their chambers, that sort of thing. Chalk one up for the bad guys here. I love it. I love it.
Norma Lewis (08:31):
Well, the other one was rumored to be the illegitimate son of a German king, but he wasn't, but he kind of liked that idea, so he just referred to himself as a king anyway, in Rogers City, Michigan.
Benjamin Morris (08:45):
Oh, my goodness. And was there ever any proof or ancestry sort of paperwork, or was there ever anything that suggested?
Benjamin Morris (08:56):
A noble line.
Norma Lewis (08:57):
The king may have fathered a lot of illegitimate children, but this guy wasn't one of them.
Benjamin Morris (09:04):
Got you. Well, just get a bunch of suckers around you and folks will believe anything. So, just roll with it. Just roll with it. So, apart from the fake kings and all these other colorful characters, I mean, you have such a wide variety of individuals that you have collected for this particular volume.
Benjamin Morris (09:23):
I want to ask you just a couple of questions about the book as a whole. I mean, first, how did the concept for Michigan Scoundrels come together? Where did you get the idea to sort of bring all of these disparate people together under one roof?
Norma Lewis (09:39):
Actually, I saw another book in another state in that series and thought, I bet we have just as many here. So, sure enough we do. So, I proposed it to History Press, and they accepted it. And it was so much fun to do.
Benjamin Morris (09:58):
Oh, I can only imagine. I mean, as you're tracing these people through all of their deeds and misdeeds, just what are they going to do next is always the question, isn't it?
Norma Lewis (10:07):
Benjamin Morris (10:08):
So, how did you find them? Okay. I mean, how did they come to sort of land in your lap, so to speak?
Norma Lewis (10:19):
Well, I just started looking at local histories. I live in Grand Haven, that's kind of between Grand Rapids and Muskegon. And I found the Bidwell Brothers in the Muskegon archives, and they weren't just bank robbers, they robbed the Bank of England, they went way beyond the pale.
Benjamin Morris (10:39):
And were there files just in the archives or, I mean, what exactly did you find for them?
Norma Lewis (10:45):
Well, I found a website about them that just told their whole history. It was in New York state somewhere, but they were definitely Michigan people. They lived in Norton Shores, which is the suburb of Muskegon. About 12 miles from where I live.
I have to confess Norma, as a southern boy, who has had a number of friends from Michigan over the years end up my hometown and so forth, I always thought of Michiganders as the most industrious, perhaps, of the upper Midwestern states.
Benjamin Morris (11:33):
And it was funny because as I was reading your book, I realized, all the Michiganders that I knew were always in sort of just building barns on the weekend for fun, that sort of thing.
Norma Lewis (11:42):
Benjamin Morris (11:44):
Yeah. As I read your book, I realized that Michiganders are also industrious in less than illicit activities as well. I mean, you have some incredibly hardworking crooks in your state. So, can you explain that to me?
Norma Lewis (12:03):
Well, not really. I did make mention in the book that if some of those people had worked that hard at something legitimate, they probably would have been even more successful.
Norma Lewis (12:20):
I live in southwest Michigan, and that area is heavily populated by the Dutch heritage, and they're extremely hardworking. Most of them farmed. And there were also some entrepreneurs who built some of the leading companies in the area.
Benjamin Morris (12:40):
Well, it's a fascinating place, and you have taken us on quite a journey through it.
Benjamin Morris (12:49):
Now, I wanted to ask about one particular case for today's show. And honestly to sort of switch tone a little bit here, it's not all fun and games in your book. There's plenty of fun and games, but there's actually, quite a lot of very real difficulty and challenge.
Benjamin Morris (13:08):
And I wanted to look at what may actually be the single most difficult case in the book right up front.
Norma Lewis (13:16):
Benjamin Morris (13:16):
I wanted to ask you about Andrew Kehoe. This chapter occurs very early in your book, and you suggest that this may be the first documented school bombing in American history.
Norma Lewis (13:35):
Benjamin Morris (13:36):
Am I quoting that correctly?
Norma Lewis (13:38):
Yes, you are. He was a pretty horrible character.
Benjamin Morris (13:46):
Yeah. I mean, tell us a little bit about him and his origin, because his origin stories actually helps us a little bit to explain some of the things of why he did what he did later in life.
Norma Lewis (14:02):
Well, he was born on a farm in Tecumseh, Michigan, and he went away to school. He was always a tinkerer. He liked working on farm equipment, that was more fun than actually farming to him. And he became an electrical engineer. And he was always kind of a misfit, though. People didn't warm up to him. He had a kind of a cruel streak. He was cruel to animals in a couple of cases, killed one of his own horses and killed a neighbor's dog because it annoyed him.
Norma Lewis (14:34):
But he liked explosive. He put on one of the most impressive fireworks display that the city of Bath had ever seen one 4th of July, and people complained, and some of them thought it was wonderful. It was just Andrew being Andrew, but others complained.
Norma Lewis (14:52):
And his wife says, "Oh, it's just a little boy having some fun." So, the little boy ended up having way too much fun with explosives. He was one that they would call if they wanted tree stumps removed or something. He was the one they would call to come and blow them up. He was fascinated with blowing things up.
Benjamin Morris (15:12):
I mean, speaking as a former kid in a somewhat rural area, sometimes you got to make your own entertainment Norma. Just got to put that out there.
Benjamin Morris (15:23):
But let me ask you, in seriousness, I mean, is this part of Michigan where he grew up, I mean, is it known for say, extreme isolation between the farmsteads? Because as I was trying to understand why his interests would take this particular direction, I thought, well, maybe he just didn't have friends, or maybe his schooling ended so early that he was just sort of left to his own devices and that sort of created a little bit of a pathology there. Can you help us to understand that?
Norma Lewis (15:57):
Well actually, Bath is a suburb of Lansing almost. It's a small city, but it's very near the state capital. So, it wasn't all that isolated. And he probably killed his stepmother before he blew up the school. That was never proven, of course. But she died in a fire, and he threw water on her, presumably to put the flames out, but it was an oil fire, so it escalated it and-
Norma Lewis (16:28):
He was just a very wicked person.
Benjamin Morris (16:34):
Do you have any sense of why that might be? I mean, what was the root of that or the origin of that? I mean, was he mistreated as a child or was there something that happened?
Norma Lewis (16:50):
There is nothing to verify that, so probably not. He did have an injury that left him in a coma for two weeks, and some people said that might've been responsible for it, but he probably was just a psychopath because he exhibited all the characteristics of a psychopath. He had no compassion, no ability to relate to others. He was a loner, a tinkerer. He'd rather be monkeying around with machines than associated with people.
Benjamin Morris (17:25):
Now, and what kind of farm was he actually on? Was this livestock? Was this produce? Was this orchards?
Norma Lewis (18:24):
Well, he had horses, but I assume it was mostly, fruits or vegetables because he did enjoy riding around on his tractor all day and tinkering with his tractor. More than doing actual work.
Benjamin Morris (18:43):
Yeah. Well, I've known a few teenagers to whom I might be related, who have much preferred, tinkering rather than doing any actual work. So, as far as that aspect of human development goes, I think it is still out there in some places.
Benjamin Morris (19:01):
Now let me ask you this, did no one observe, say with the cruelty to animals or with his sort of penchant for explosives, did no one in the community sort of say or do anything about that? Or I mean, were they really just kind of live and let live?
Norma Lewis (19:23):
Well, the incidents were probably very far apart, and probably most people didn't know about either one of them, let alone both. But I had something in the manuscript to begin with that said ... but they deleted it. The editor took it out. But that TV show, Evil Lives Here, where it says, if the person closest to you were a monster, would you recognize the signs? And there were signs with him, but nobody recognized them. His lack of compassion towards his stepmother, for example.
Benjamin Morris (19:59):
Yeah, I know that was a big one. The other thing that struck me about his upbringing, which felt very paradoxical and sort of unresolved Norma, it felt like such a mystery to me trying to understand it. You write that he grew up as many people in the upper Midwest do, he grew up a devout Catholic.
Norma Lewis (20:29):
Benjamin Morris (20:31):
And what was interesting about that is that as you got to know him, even in the first part of his life, we're not even at the bombing yet. We'll come to that in a moment.
Benjamin Morris (20:40):
But in the first part of his life, what really struck me is that if you think about the core of the Catholic church, works of mercy, caring for the poor, sort of attending to those around you and to their needs. He's a devout Catholic on paper, and yet in all of his behavior towards those around him, I mean, nothing could be further than the truth. So, how do we explain that?
Norma Lewis (21:18):
Well, he was Catholic. I don't know how devout he was. He was born Catholic and raised Catholic, but obviously the basic tenets didn't stick.
Benjamin Morris (21:33):
Yeah. That was kind of a hard one to reconcile because at least with some of your scoundrels, they profess no larger moral system to which they subscribe. They just ... life is what it is, and you make the most of it and get what's yours, and take anything that's not nailed down and ...
Norma Lewis (21:58):
Benjamin Morris (21:59):
And yet here, you had at least the presumption of a system of kind of moral accountability and yet it was never lived out in any particular way.
Benjamin Morris (22:13):
You also write, which is kind of interesting that he — and this kind of helps us get into the school bombing sort of situation as he developed his grievances.
Benjamin Morris (22:26):
But you also write that he had major, major frustrations with the taxation system in his local area. He really hated taxes, which is understandable.
Norma Lewis (22:41):
Benjamin Morris (22:43):
Let me just say, I understand that perspective has not necessarily gone away. But I was always a fan of Oliver Wendell Holmes' claim that, "I like taxes, they buy me civilization."
Benjamin Morris (22:57):
But anyway, moving past that, this guy seems to have an absolute vendetta against paying for things that he did not receive any kind of direct benefit from, like school systems. So, tell us about that.
Norma Lewis (23:15):
Exactly. Well, he didn't have children, so why should he pay school taxes? That was his rationale.
Benjamin Morris (23:23):
It's just that simple. There's no level of nuance that he would've ever entertained, that maybe making educated citizens in your local community can inform good decision making over generations. Does that not work?
Norma Lewis (23:41):
That probably didn't enter his mind, but what we really took exception to was the new consolidated school. They closed all the one room schools and built one big, consolidated school, and he thought that was a complete waste of money.
Norma Lewis (23:56):
And then they kept wanting more money to add equipment to the boys' shop and to the girls' home rooms and even playground equipment. And that was also frivolous to him and just totally unnecessary.
Benjamin Morris (24:11):
Okay. I can see how that might have garnered some frustration there, some additional grievance. Now, do you think that alone was enough to put him over the top? Or were there other things which led to this plot that he concocted?
Norma Lewis (24:30):
I think he was just kind of a nut to begin with, but that's just my opinion.
Benjamin Morris (24:35):
Sure, sure, sure. Well, they do make them in all shapes and sizes. There's no doubt about that.
Benjamin Morris (24:45):
So, take us to that day then. Help us to understand, what happened on the day of America's first school bombing?
Norma Lewis (24:56):
Well, his frustration level was at an all-time high. Everything was going against him. He had served on the school board and had hoped to slow expenses down a little bit, but he was in his last term, he'd also been the town clerk for a short time. But that was temporary. He was defeated in the election to keep the posts.
Norma Lewis (25:18):
So, all of his influence in the community was drifting away. His wife had tuberculosis and was in and out of the hospital. That was an expense he really didn't feel like he could afford. And he thought that his mortgage was going to be foreclosed. It wasn't because his wife's aunt held the mortgage, but he didn't believe that she wasn't going to foreclose. So, he felt like he was out of options, and he just did the only thing he could think of.
Benjamin Morris (25:48):
Now, there's an important fact here, which we should add for context, because one might wonder how did this sort of homegrown pyromaniac get access to this school building? And he was the custodian, wasn't he? I mean, he was actually-
Norma Lewis (26:05):
Right. I forgot to say that when they imposed the tax, he said it would ruin him financially, so he asked for a part-time job as custodian to pay the taxes. That was how he ended up there.
Benjamin Morris (26:17):
So, he had keys. I mean, he could come and go as he wished.
Norma Lewis (26:22):
Benjamin Morris (26:25):
Well, so what exactly does he do? And if I remember correctly, we're sort of the late 20s now, 1927, 1928.
Norma Lewis (26:38):
Benjamin Morris (26:38):
What exactly does he do with these … first of all, where does he get the explosive material? And then secondly, what does he do with it?
Norma Lewis (26:50):
Well, I'm sure we talked about how he acquired it before, and I don't know for sure, but I'm sure it was pretty available. And he just bought it and went into the building and people actually saw him in the building doing things, but they didn't realize what he was doing.
Norma Lewis (27:05):
They thought he was just doing his job. So, he wired it, and the next morning, the whole town woke up to two really loud blasts, and there should have been three. He did another area that never detonated, fortunately, it would've been even worse.
Benjamin Morris (27:25):
Yeah. And I think you're write that — forgive me if I'm remembering the figure wrong, but I think you said it was 300 pounds of dynamite was what he ended up.
Norma Lewis (27:34):
Benjamin Morris (27:36):
Wow. I mean, it's hard to imagine just the explosive force that that would generate. And school was in session when the explosions went off? Is that right?
Norma Lewis (27:49):
Right. It was almost the end of the school year. It was May, mid-May. And people hurried to the building when they heard the explosives to see if they could help. And one woman mentioned passing him, and he tipped his hat and waved. He was a monster, but still a gentleman.
Benjamin Morris (28:32):
Okay, alright. So, he gets there. I mean, there's carnage everywhere. I mean, several portions of the building have kind of imploded almost and collapsed. And what did the rescue response look like?
Norma Lewis (28:51):
Well, people thought he was there to help, everybody else was there to help, and he hated the school superintendent, so he motioned him to come over to the car. And the superintendent, of course, thought he was there to help. He got in the car and Andrew just pointed a gun at the back of the car where he had a load of dynamite and exploded the car and killed both of them and five other people.
Norma Lewis (29:18):
I'm giving away the ending here.Benjamin Morris (29:21):
No, that's okay. That's okay. Trust me, there are a dozen other scoundrels in your book. And I did want to tell Andrew's story from start to finish because I think it is so compelling and has so many unanswered questions.
Benjamin Morris (29:36):
I think any reader who is out there who wants to try to understand this more deeply absolutely needs to take a look at your account because we are left wondering what was going through his mind.
Benjamin Morris (29:48):
And one of the main questions that I had for you, Norma, with respect to this particular story was, so he sees his nemesis, he sees the superintendent whom he blames for so many of these problems, he brings him over to the car. And so, Kehoe the bomber, he shoots the dynamite that he has wired his own car up with.
Norma Lewis (30:14):
Benjamin Morris (30:15):
Did Kehoe intend to kill himself; do you think?
Norma Lewis (30:19):
Oh, I think he did.
Norma Lewis (30:26):
One other telling thing is that after it was all over, they found a sign he had written and posted on one of the fences that said, criminals are made not born. So, he knew what he was doing was criminal, but he felt like his circumstances led him to do it.
Benjamin Morris (30:52):
I'm not a criminal psychologist. But as I was reading your account, it really was interesting to me to see how enormous of a victim complex this man had. I mean, he just blamed everybody else for-
Norma Lewis (31:10):
Right. Everyone but himself.
Benjamin Morris (31:12):
Everybody but himself. Yeah, absolutely. That was just running through every single page of your account of him and this last little parting gesture, that sign that you mentioned, that's just so in keeping with that mentality. Right?
Norma Lewis (31:28):
Benjamin Morris (31:29):
It's always somebody else's fault. But no, when I read that passage about the last explosion, he'd wired his own car and he'd killed his nemesis and killed himself. I had actually wondered briefly whether he was standing at such a distance that he had intended to kill the superintendent by shooting the car, but not himself.
Norma Lewis (31:56):
And maybe he didn't see the opportunity to do it otherwise, or he was caught off guard. There was no suicidal tendency in the rest of your account of him, so that moment sort of stood out and made me wonder, like what's actually going on here?
Norma Lewis (32:13):
I think he probably intended to kill himself and getting the superintendent was just a bonus, just the icing on the cake. He just happened to be there.
Norma Lewis (32:25):
But that's just my opinion.
Benjamin Morris (32:27):
Was there anything else that was left behind at the scene that helped to (I don't know), illuminate his motives or anything that was at his farm that was left that … any-
Norma Lewis (32:44):
No, not really. One thing everyone was concerned because just prior to that, he had insisted that a package go to the post office. And so, they think about that and go and run to the post office and grab the package and take it out in the parking lot and very carefully open it. And it's the school board ledger where he was the treasurer. So, I think he did intend to kill himself and wanted to make sure the ledger was turned in and meticulously balanced, like he did everything.
Benjamin Morris (33:20):
That's very strange.
Norma Lewis (33:21):
So, if he hadn't planned on dying, I don't think he would've done that.
Benjamin Morris (33:26):
I mean, is that a parting shot? I mean, why go to that trouble?
Norma Lewis (33:30):
It was his last responsible act.
Benjamin Morris (33:33):
Yeah. Why go to the trouble if you're just going to end it all though? I mean, I don't know.
Norma Lewis (33:38):
I don't know. He just felt responsible for doing his job as treasurer.
Norma Lewis (33:47):
It makes no sense to a normal person sense.
Norma Lewis (33:48):
It makes no sense. Right, exactly. So, let me ask you this. You write that the final death toll was about 45 people, mostly children. The vast majority of those were children.
Norma Lewis (34:07):
Right. 38 children, and the rest were adults. And then Kehoe himself, of course. He had killed his wife the day before she was part of the death toll.
Benjamin Morris (34:17):
Oh, good lord. Okay. There we go, more psychopathic behavior. But let me ask you, in this day and age, when we have tragedies on school campuses or in university campuses and so forth and students lose their lives, frequently there's a period of mourning, and then there's a period of memorialization Norma. I mean, often monuments are erected, or plaques or buildings might even be repurposed in some particular instances to kind of honor the dead, those who were killed in that area.
Benjamin Morris (35:06):
This was the first event of this kind in this country. What was the aftermath like? How did the community come together to remember this event or to mark this event or to mourn and memorialize this event?
Norma Lewis (35:22):
Well, in the school, there is a small memorial museum, if you want to call them that, that shows artifacts in the typical classroom and photographs. So, it is remembered there and of course, in history as a whole.
Benjamin Morris (35:40):
Yeah. So, that's interesting. They actually have artifacts there. Well, it's a necessary act, and I think it's one of these things that is so important because the wounds run so deep that it can take decades and decades for them to heal.
Benjamin Morris (35:58):
One of the most important things that we can do is tell the story of those who lost their lives that day.
Norma Lewis (36:17):
Right. But it had a lasting impact on the survivors too.
Benjamin Morris (36:22):
Norma Lewis (36:22):
I had a book booth at an event over the weekend, and I was talking to someone whose aunt was one of the children who survived. And it had such an effect on her that she never wanted to go out of her house after that. She married and never had children, but almost never left home.
Benjamin Morris (36:43):
Yeah, yeah. The fear, the uncertainty of course. Absolutely.
Norma Lewis (36:49):
Fear and maybe a little bit of survivor guilt.
Norma Lewis (36:54):
Why did I live in they die?
Benjamin Morris (36:57):
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It's a difficult story and it's a challenging story. But it's also very powerful. And I thought that your description of the way that the members of the community and the rescuers came together in its aftermath was very gripping. And so, it's important to remember those efforts as well.
Benjamin Morris (37:21):
So, thank you for taking us into the dark heart of that part of the state, because I think we do have to shine a light on these things to see them more clearly. I'm glad to say, Norma, that next week we will get to spend time with someone who is a lot more fun to hang out with.
Norma Lewis (37:42):
Benjamin Morris (37:43):
And I'm looking forward to that very much. Thank you for taking some time for us this week. And we will be back next week to spend the afternoon with Silas Doty. So, we will pick it up there.