our lady of the angels fire 95 students killed 50th anniversary

Full story: Chicago Tribune

On Dec. 1, 1958, a fire consumed Our Lady of the Angels grade school on the West Side of Chicago, killing 92 children and three nuns.
Comments
21 - 40 of 100 Comments Last updated Jul 29, 2014
No Different

Chicago, IL

#27 Nov 30, 2008
When you wonder what happened to Chicago (and other great U.S. cities) remember the surnames listed in this article.
No Different

Chicago, IL

#28 Nov 30, 2008
MDK wrote:
Terrible, terrible incident but it helped Chicago become one of the safest cities in the country with very stringent fire coding and safety regulation. One that Charleston can and should learn from. Most public spaces have no sprinklers or multiple means of egress. Even after the Sofa Super Store fire where 9 firefighters lost their lives last year.(no sprinklers there) At least Chicago learns by their mistakes!
God bless all of the families of these children and nuns.
Oh Good Lord, you've got busted sidewalks,haphazard/unchecked construction projects, non-standard balcony railings and pre-war plumbing throughout this city. Check the standards for Dearborn, MI (or Detroit for that matter) to get Chicago in the 21st century.

I feel "safer" in Chicago in that I may not get hit by a bullet, but I may get stabbed in the back walking down the street or run over by somebody gabbing on their cell phone while driving (=UNenforced cell phone ban).
yochanan

South Bend, IN

#30 Nov 30, 2008
when i was in college i had a girl friend who wrote a moving book on the 'OUR LADY OF ANGEL FIRE'

The Fire That Will Not Die, by Michele McBride
Lizz

Crystal Lake, IL

#31 Nov 30, 2008
I was 6 and lived way out in the middle of no where: Earlville. I remember my parents telling all of us kids over and over: If you are in a fire, get out of the building.

The sadness of that fire reached everywhere.
Bob Kale Tucson Az

Scottsdale, AZ

#32 Nov 30, 2008
I went to O'Toole School on the south side in the mid '60s and every time we had a fire drill we had to stay in order and follow strict directions I remember teachers would say "every one please follow directions and we don't need another 'Lady of Angels' here"...it would be years later as I got older to realize what the teachers were talking about.
Most young cub photographers became cigar smokers to cover up the smell of really bad crime scenes.....
whatruthinking

Oak Brook, IL

#33 Nov 30, 2008
I wasn't born yet, but whenever my mom would try to tell us the story, she couldn't do it....she brought us to Mary Queen of Heaven cemetery and showed us the monument with all the names of the children who died....there are no words.
Lincoln Park Mom

Redford, MI

#35 Nov 30, 2008
I was a third-grader at St. Gertrude's school at the time of the OLA fire. I remember so clearly watching the tv with my parents that night, all of us crying for the children and the nuns and their families.

I would like all the families of those deceased and all the survivors and their families to know they have always been in my prayers and in my heart.
Crestwood

Chicago, IL

#36 Nov 30, 2008
I was 15 years old and my sister's school-mate lived across street from the Our Lady of the Angels School Fire. We stood on the front porch of my sister's friend's home and watched this horrific tragedy unfold and I will never forget seeing the small children being carried down the ladders by the Chicago Firemen from the school windows. God bless the children, their families and all of the brave Chicago Firemen for doing their best.
Scott

Richmond, VA

#37 Nov 30, 2008
Not sure if I needed to read something
so horrifying as this collection of stories on a Sunday morning.

That no cause of the blaze was ever determined seems incredible not that someone or thing could be made to bear
the blame but simply because, for the victim's sake, it should have been known.
Toni

Plano, TX

#38 Nov 30, 2008
Growing up in the 70's and going to St. Casimir's, I always wondered why the sisters took our fire drills so seriously. Once, in the first grade, a boy was talking in line (we weren't allowed to talk during the drills) and one of the sisters scolded him harshly. It wasn't until 1978 and I read the articles on the 20th anniversary of the fire that I understood why the nuns were so strict about our fire drills and took things so seriously. I thank them for that and will keep the victims of the tragedy in my thoughts tomorrow, December 1st.
Kel

United States

#39 Nov 30, 2008
Very informative story and history lesson on the City Of Chicago. My Aunt who wouldve been 11 at the time knew some kids who were killed in the fire. And I have heard many stories of that day. Good job Tribune
SKP

Chicago, IL

#40 Nov 30, 2008
In Sunday paper, you did not tell how some of the nuns told the children to ignore the fire and sit at their desks and pray. How a classroom was found by the firemen with dead children sitting at their desks. How one boy was saved from this fate by his older sister dragging him out of the classroom telling him that they had to get home. In previous years, you have included this. Shame on you for sweeping this under the run. Cover up then and cover up now.

Since: Jul 07

PARK RIDGE IL.

#41 Nov 30, 2008
I have the 2001 publication of Great Chicago Fires which was written by a Chicago firefighter and 1 story that was mentioned how a saleman ran into a nearby store wanting to use the phone to call the FD and the store owner was uncomfortable allowing him to use it and I guess she must have not phoned to FD herself because she was criticized badly.

If this is true than why would she have ignored what this man was telling her?
Omaha Catholic

Omaha, NE

#43 Nov 30, 2008
When I was in Catholic grade school, in the 1970's in Omaha, this fire was openly discussed and feared. One could feel the panic in the older nuns and teachers voices. Their fears and memories of this were fresh. Only recently, did I learn the full story of this mess.
Tim V in Nebraska

Omaha, NE

#45 Nov 30, 2008
This concern happened in Omaha, Nebraska in the 1967-1976 time frame I attended Holy Cross Grade School, which is still open and built in 1933.
Anne-Marie Hislop wrote:
I was a 4th grade Catholic school kid in New Jersey at the time. The fire must have scared the beegeebers out of teachers across the country. What I remember most is the nuns in our school reminding us of "the Chicago school fire" any time we were having a fire drill or acting up in some way (they feared, I think, that lack of perfect order and obedience could lead to tragedy in a crisis). The certainly put a measure of fear in me as a child!
angelica h

Chicago, IL

#46 Nov 30, 2008
its a horrible story .my heart goes to the families who lost their love ones.
Union Maid

Oakland, CA

#47 Nov 30, 2008
Barry wrote:
I was a second grade student at Haugan at that time,only a few miles north of Our Lady of the An gels. Even at my young age I could read the papers and hear my parents and grandparents talking about the tragedy. Knowing that kids died that day whle I was in school deeply affected me and remains in my memory to this day.
I too was in second grade at Haugan at the time. I would guess our consistent fire drills were a result of this fire. I remember them being taken very seriously and we too could not say a word as the drill progressed.

To the poster who named names of students who may have been involved- that was so inconsiderate of you to list people when you have no idea who or what was responsible for this catastrophe. You are like a rumor monger, getting people in trouble for no reason at all. What were you thinking?
Grizzster

San Marino, CA

#48 Nov 30, 2008
When I was very young,I lived a mile south of OLA, just south of Garfield Park. We moved from the neighborhood in 1954.

I was a 6th grader on the day of the fire, in one of the northern suburbs. My kid sister and I watched the TV news, horror-stricken, and my father brought home the extra edition of the Daily News. I had nightmares for weeks and have never really forgotten that day.

My dentist, as a kid, was named Dorothy Rizzo...very few dentists were female and Italian back then...her office was above the old Alamo Theater on Chicago Avenue, a few blocks from the school. I later heard that authorities called upon her and used her dental records to identify many victims. I don't know if this is true or not.

In the 90's I married an Ohio girl and moved here. I have tried to get her to understand what it was like to be a horrified grammar-school kid in Chicago when the fire happened, but some things, you just can't explain.

I now live near another school that is named Our Lady of the Angels, and of course, wwhenever I pass it, a chill goes through my blood that the natives will never understand.

They weren't 11 years old and living in Chicago on that terrible day. Some things, you just can't explain.
Natalie

Arlington Heights, IL

#49 Nov 30, 2008
My mother's best friend in high school was one of the survivers of the fire. She had horrible scars on her legs. She told my mother that a nun forced her to run through the fire to safety. My mom's friend had the scars, the nun lost her life.
connor wrote:
my grandmother was in that fire. she said the nuns made them pray to god for safety. they prayed. and they burned.
Natalie

Arlington Heights, IL

#50 Nov 30, 2008
I heard of that, about the dead children sitting at their desks. They might talk about it tomorrow.
SKP wrote:
In Sunday paper, you did not tell how some of the nuns told the children to ignore the fire and sit at their desks and pray. How a classroom was found by the firemen with dead children sitting at their desks. How one boy was saved from this fate by his older sister dragging him out of the classroom telling him that they had to get home. In previous years, you have included this. Shame on you for sweeping this under the run. Cover up then and cover up now.

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