Edward was shy, and classmates and teachers remembered him as having strange mannerisms, such as seemingly random laughter, as if he were laughing at his own personal jokes. His mother punished him whenever he tried to make friends. Despite his poor social development, he did fairly well in school, particularly in reading. Augusta was rarely pleased with her kids, believing that they were destined to become failures and alcoholics like their father. In their teenage years and early adulthood, Henry and Ed remained detached from people outside of their farmstead, and had only each other for company.
His father died of heart failure caused by his alcoholism on April 1, 1940, aged 66. Ed and Henry both worked as handymen, Ed also frequently babysat for neighbors. He enjoyed babysitting, seeming to relate more easily to children than adults. Henry began dating a divorced, single mother of two, and planned on moving in with her; Henry often spoke ill of his mother around Ed, who responded with shock and hurt. On May 16, 1944, Henry and Ed were burning