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Thread: Our Lady of the Angels school fire

  1. #401
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    Thanks, fellow Hags for all the get well wishes. Not all the teaching nuns made the comment about the good kids dying. Welcome, Torque.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  2. #402
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    Joyce Peneschi's first-person account, Part 1

    Ms Peneschi was in Room 106, but has vivid recollections of the fire. This is in her own words, unedited:
    "My experience of the School fire actually started about a month or so before the School fire for me.
    It began with having bad dream's, they were nightmares for me. On this piticular night I dreamt that one of my girlfriend's from School died, (but I cannot mention her name because she was one of them who did die in the fire ) In that dream (I dont know how she died ) but I could see her Mother was very sad. That dream up set me so much that I woke up out of a sound sleep. My Mother who was still up asked me what I was doing awake ? I started crying and telling my Mother about my dream, my Mother did her best to try to console me, and calm me down to go back to sleep.
    A few night's later I had another dream, this time it was another girlfriend that died, ( and I wont mention her name either) again I woke up crying, and told my Mother about my dream. Again Mom did her best to console me and calm me down enough to go back to sleep.
    A week later I had another one of those dreams, of another girlfriend from School dying, and I woke up again from my sleep crying, and panic stricken, I was really up set !!! Again I told my Mother, and she tried to console me. She said to me that maybe God is telling you to be extra nice to these girls, and not to take their friendship for granite. So I thought about it for awhile, and that made sence to me, so I decided that I would make it a special point to spend as much time as I could playing with these girl's. With one of them, I spent all afternoon after School riding our bicycles, we had so much fun, untill my bicycle tire went flat. I was late getting home, my Mother was mad at me because I was late. I tried to explain to her that, That is what I had to do, in case my friend dies.
    On another outing with a girlfriend we went roller skating all over the neighborhood, and had a great time. Again I was late getting home. And again trying to explain this to my Mother.
    And another one of my girlfriends, I just stayed at her house playing with Doll's. Again I was late getting home, after 6 PM My Mother was really mad at me. I just couldnt seem to make my Mother understand what I had to do.
    My Mother must have thought that I was crazy or something ? but she never made any comment about that.
    Meanwhile my Grandmother tell's my Mother about the strange dream she had, a big building was on fire, Children were trapped and screaming, and there was alot of black smoke.
    When the fire happened I was devistated to learn that these girlfriends, did die. I felt good in one way because I was able to spend some special time with each one of them.
    I was grief stricken over their death, because I felt that maybe I could have done something to prevent it from happening because after all, I did dream about them dying. I could have warned them that something was going to happen, but I didnt know what was going to happen ? I did suffer alot of guilt about this, for many year's.
    My Grandmother did not know her dream was the School on fire, untill after the fire.
    Years later I learned that it was ESP that I had, and I really was not going crazy, and there was nothing that I could have done to prevent what had happened. But today I can say that I am satisfied that I did get to spend some extra special time with my little girlfriends before God took them away from us. Even if I did get in trouble with my Mother for being late, it was worth it. Now My Mother understands what I was doing....... And she too is in Heaven with all our little Angels. "
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  3. #403
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    Joyce Peneschi, Part 2

    Same as before, this is unedited and her first-person account of Dec. 1, 1958.

    "Om Monday morning December 1, st started out to be a good day. I was in the 4th grade, of a 3rd & 4th grade split classroom # 107 of the North Wing. There was about 14 of us 4th graders in that classroom. We had a substitute Teacher, Mrs Kizior because our regular Nun was out sick for some time. The Teacher told me that morning that, me and 6 other student's will be getting transfered to the other 4th grade classroom up stair's room 210, next Monday. And the other 4th graders would be transfered to the other 4th grade, in the other section. I was so happy because my two best girlfriends were in that classroom, Connie & Susan, we were playmates out of School. My Grandfather called us the Three Musketeers. The Teacher asked me to take the transfer paper's up stair's to room 210, to Sister Mary Seraphica's class. I walked up that old wooden stairway, (and down not realizing that later that afternoon it would be on fire) I gave the paper's to Sister, she said ok, see you next week, I went back down stair's to my classroom. I wanted to be transfered right then and there, I didnt want to wait untill next week, but Sister Mary Seraphia had to make room for us by adding another row and more desk's to her classroom. I couldnt wait to tell my Friend's that we would be together. I told Connie & Susan about the transfer when we walked home for lunch, they were happy too. After lunch we met again and walked back to School together, making plans as we always did to meet after School and walk home together. That afternoon some crazy thoughts were coming to me, and I began to feel uncomfortable. I had this feeling that I would not be going into Rm 210, something was going to happen to change all that, I said to my self what could possibly happen ? so I just put it off as over excitement on my part. I asked to go to the bathroom, and went to the Girl's bathroom in the basement (of the North Wing) for a short break, I liked that bathroom because it had long pipes, up above by the ceiling, I dont know what kind of pipes they were ? but we Girl's useto like to swing and hang on them (like monkey bars) we were always taking time out to go to that bathroom and play, if we were gone too long, our Teacher's would come looking for us. I thought that maybe a few swings would make these bad feeling's go away. I walked down that old wooden stairway (where the fire started, just a short time before.)There was just something about that wooden section, by the North Wing, and the wooden section of the main Entrance that I loved so much. When I went back to my classroom, it was getting close to the end of the day, so I hurried up with doing my assignments, I finished up early and turned my papers in to the Teacher. I sat at my desk quietly fumbling around cleaning out my desk, then I just sat there watching everyone else finishing up their work, I kept looking at the clock, time was going by so slow, from 2:30 to 2:45 seemed so long. I couldnt wait to get out of School, because I was still feeling uncomfortable, I dont know why ? and I did not like that. I went to the back of the room to sharpen some of my pencils, to kill more time, then funbled with my desk again. When all of a sudden the fire alarm bell rang...........When the fire alarm rang, I looked at the clock, I said to my self that's a strange time to have a fire drill ? The first row of students by the window, were already getting their coat's from the coat room, I was in the last row by the door, (to get coats) but first row to leave the classroom, and in this case for fire drill. But I did not leave my classroom in a single file like I was suposeto, I had to do more fumbling at my desk, as the other's were leaving. The Teacher kept saying to us hurry, hurry , fire drill. We had a standing order in all our classrooms during a fire drill, last person to leave must close the door !! Pokey me was last to leave my classroom, I closed the door, but I turned around and went back to my desk, because I left my new wallet, I had this feeling that if I dont take it now , I'll never get it. I left my classroom and again I closed the door. There was nobody in the hall, or corridor as we called it. I just had this strange feeling that I would never again be in that School, so with that feeling instead of walking to the out door, I took my time walking and looking through the windows of the other classroom's of that first floor. I looked into my Brother's classroom they were gone, everyone was gone. I walked to the back, by the stairway, it was dark, but that section was always dark, I saw black smoke in the stairway, I got scared, my School was on fire !!!!! my legs began to shake, they felt like rubber, I couldnt walk, but I tried to run, and tripped. I was so shook up. But I was the very last person to leave that first floor North Wing. When I pushed the door to go out side I saw many people across the street looking up, the fire dept. was not there yet, but I heard their sirens coming down Avers Ave. I'm slowly walking on the School side of the street, trying to look up at the building, black smoke was coming out from all the windows, the fireman couldnt work fast enough to get all their hoses stretched out, I could hear Kid's screaming, thats when I realized that not all our kids got out of the building. I said to my self "MY GOd WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE ? " I walked over to the alley side, and saw my Friends jumping out of the windows on fire, crashing on to the cement, breaking their bones. The fireman had one net, they were running back and forth trying to catch the jumping children, neighbors had blankets trying to catch children, the ladders were not tall enough to reach the 2nd floor, the screams of the children, screaming for help. More fire truck sirens coming, but the street is full of people, people every where, everything was going so fast, the black smoke was getting blacker, it looked like it was getting dark out side. By the alley Candy Store there was injured children sitting on the concrete, leaning on the wall of the brick candy store building, I did not recognize any of them, some were black from smoke, some were burned , and some were bloody, face hands and arms. They were waiting for ambulances to pick them up. The ambulances would come, load up and go, and another would come. The noise of all the sirens, up set me,( and still botheres me till this day )The sounds of the screaming Children, (at times I still hear it in my sleep) Fireman were carring children, I didnt know if they were dead or alive ? these lifeless Children all black from smoke. This was unreal !!! I was so worried about all the Children trapped on that second floor. I prayed that they would all get out. I couldnt watch any more ,I walked to the other corner of Avers and Iowa St. I was not prepared for what I was about to see, the dead bodies were covered up and lined up, waiting to be picked up by ambulance, there were so many dead Children, I couldnt stop crying. The ambulance people were loading up the dead bodies as fast as they could. I got angry because those people were handling those dead Children, like sacks of potatoes, I just had to go over there and tell them people. please be gentle with my little friends. They said the roof collapsed on the second floor, now the fireman have to dig for the Children. I was in shock, I couldnt beleive that this was really happening. I saw some parents of friends looking for their Children, everyone was going crazy. The TV news people were there, trying to talk to survivors, we stuck out like sore thumbs in our School uniforms. I was not talking to anyone, I did listen to some of the questions they were asking. These news people ask some dumb questions. We didnt know any more then they did about the fire, but some of the kids wanted to be on TV. I walked back to the other side of the School by the alley, and watched everything that was going on. (when I close my eyes and think about it, it's like a video recording that plays over & over, and I hear all the sounds, and it never goes away.) It was starting to get dark out side, they havent found all the Children some are still missing. I just couldnt go home yet, I felt that I cannot leave untill they find all the Children, I wont be able to sleep not knowing that all the Children didnt get out. But it was getting late, and dark out, if I dont get home I'll be in big trouble, I gotta be home before my Mom gets home from work. It was about 5:30 pm when I went home, Mom got home about 6m. I wanted to watch the TV news, Mom said NO !! !!! But Mom didnt know that I stayed there all afternoon watching everything, she thought watching the news would cause me emotional trauma ! I couldnt talk about it, to tell her that I need to watch the news, I need to know who did not make it. But I just could not talk about it. I was like a zombie. We lived in a 3 story building on Hamlin Ave, top floor. After my bath to get all the smoke smell off me, I couldnt eat dinner, or go to sleep, or watch TV, I sat at the kitchen table by the window, just looking toward the School, there was a shroud of black smoke lingering over the School all night, I was worried about all the Children who didnt get out yet, by now they must be dead. I hated that word dead & dying I was afraid of dying, death & dying gave me the creeps. Where do we rally go when we die ? Now some of my Friends are dead, I dont think that I can handle that ? They are too young to die. In my Childs mind I prayed to God to please bring them back, I beleived that God could do anything, even bring them back. I could not go to sleep that night, (and many many nights after that)I could not close my eyes everytime I did , I would see the fire over, and over. I couldnt go to bed because that ment time to go to sleep, and close my eyes. So I started falling asleep any where but in my bed.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

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    Joyce Peneschi Part 3

    "And when I did fall asleep, I would deam about the fire, my Mom told me that I would talk in my sleep, cry in my sleep, and scream in my sleep. The things that I could not talk about by day, would come out at night in my sleep. My Mom tried asking me questions about the fire, but soon realized that I could not talk about it, to anyone. She would find out information from me when I talked in my sleep. I resented the fact that my Mom would not let me watch the TV news, or read the newspaper in the days following the fire. For one thing I did not know any of the names of the dead Children. The next day and everyday, I walked to see what was left of my School, I was not the only survivor visiting there, one of my friends happen to be there, the first thing I wanted to ask him was how is youre Brother ? and did he make it out ok ? I was afraid to ask ? I couldnt say I'm sorry, because I didnt know. That left me in a awful situation. News stands were always sold out of newspapers, so I couldnt even buy any. My Mom would not allow me to go to any of the Wakes at the funeral parlor's. But when I learned that my best friend Susan Smaldone died on Dec 23, 1958 I begged my Grandmother to take me to Lupo Funeral Parlor, on Chicago Ave. to see Susie. We went against my Mom's orders, Grandma and I walked to Lupo's Funeral Parlor, Susie had a closed Coffin, she was burned very bad 85% of her body. God saved her from a life time of pain & suffering, and a lifetime of people making fun of her. Susie was a beautiful girl. As with so many of our girls who lost their faces from the fire. This was a tradgy that didnt have to happen, it ruined many lives, and it makes me angry because it was arson."
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  5. #405
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    Wow, well at least she listened to her dreams and was able to spend extra time with her friends. What a gift to have but then horrible to see that. Thanks for bringing that here Alan

  6. #406
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    You're welcome, BelleRain.


    Quote Originally Posted by BelleRain View Post
    Wow, well at least she listened to her dreams and was able to spend extra time with her friends. What a gift to have but then horrible to see that. Thanks for bringing that here Alan
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  7. #407
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    Arsonist's Confession

    I recently received "To Sleep With the Angels" and Michele McBride's book from a generous friend. While reading TSWTA, one section stood out. John Reid gave a polygraph test to the boy who was thought to be the arsonist who set the fire on Dec. 1, 1958:


    "Why did you set the fire?" Reid asked him.
    An edge of bitterness crept into the boy's voice. "Because of my teachers," he said. "I hated my teachers and my principal. They always were threatening me. They always wanted to expel me from school."
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  8. #408
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    Cause he hated his teachers.....I hated some of mine too. Most children do. But, I didn't burn up the freaking school. You know how many teachers he killed...3. He killed 92 of his classmates. Little bleeping idiot.
    You robbed an international house of pancakes. How waffle-Harry T. Stone


    Twitter: @rchamberlain87 Follow me if you want. Just play nice.

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  9. #409
    luckyinlove Guest
    I was surprised during my reading of TSWTA to find that our little fire bug lit his own HOME ON FIRE! I wonder how many other people he ended up killing. Four people died in the bowling alley fire he was suspected of setting.

    PS: i don't think the people (nuns, parents) were being cruel to the children i just honestly think they did not know better. General understanding of psychology has come a long way since the 50s!

  10. #410
    Timeo Vitae Guest
    Thanks for posting all of that Alan. I meant to put bits of this info up before. Reid cunningly had the story leak out. (Maybe this has been posted already and I missed it. Sorry if I'm repeating it.) It made all the front-page Chicago papers for January 16th of 1962. Alan, you'll see that on page 209 in the TSWTA book. On page 208 near the top, it explains how the boy was immune from criminal prosecution due to his age.



    Thanks Alan also for the description of Joyce Penechi. Wonderful to read. If i find myself getting outraged and horrified about the course of events, I can only imagine how the people involved feel....to this day.

  11. #411
    Timeo Vitae Guest

    Somewhat upbeat info after the fire.....

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...ey+burda&hl=en

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...ey+burda&hl=en

    Basically these articles mention how Beverly Burda's dad got work and donations to fix up his home after the fire. It was from a fund set up by the local car dealer to help the families. The man, James Moran, also set up a summer outing (or a similar event) for the survivors. I remember reading that Charlene Campanale was too injured to gothe the summer event, so he bought her a stereo system.

  12. #412
    Timeo Vitae Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Alanwench View Post

    "Why did you set the fire?" Reid asked him.
    An edge of bitterness crept into the boy's voice. "Because of my teachers," he said. "I hated my teachers and my principal. They always were threatening me. They always wanted to expel me from school."

    Powerful stuff Alan, thanks for posting it. Hope you're feeling better as each day passes...

  13. #413
    Timeo Vitae Guest


    ..And WELCOME Torque!

  14. #414
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    Yesterday I got my copy of TSWTA in the mail. I am about half finished. Restless night's sleep.
    Am looking forward to the arrival of Angels Too Soon DVD.

    Alan - I thought I had also read a newspaper account where the little bastard arsonist said something about he liked setting fires because he loved sirens and fire trucks? BTW...great info! Hope you feel better today!

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    I think a lot of people need to read To Sleep With the Angels, it's a very powerful book. Makes you not take a lot of things for granted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pksgigi View Post
    I think a lot of people need to read To Sleep With the Angels, it's a very powerful book. Makes you not take a lot of things for granted.
    Agree!

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    Thanks again for the get well wishes. Progress is slow, but I didn't expect to heal overnight. Thanks so much, catlady, for the good news items. I didn't realize that Reid leaked the details in the newspaper. Since I was born in 1965 I missed reading everything as it happened. Yes, I read where the kid set his house on fire as well as the bowling alley in Cicero.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  18. #418
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    Mike Guzaldo's First-Person Account of Fire

    "Before I get into my recollections of the fire, I ask the WebMaster to correct my 1st Cousin Frances Guzaldo's entry under "people involved" Frances is listed as a boy - Frances was a girl.

    I also lost my 1st Cousin, Frank Piscopo, I remember both of these people very well and I guess our family never really got over the loss of our loved ones.

    The day of the fire in etched in my memory, I recall the blind walk down the stairs from room 201. I sat in the last seat nearest the back door adjacent to the window and radiator. It was my job to lead part of the class out the door through the cloak room down the stairs and out. We had fire drills to practice that. The smoke was very thick and sooty, our faces were black from it. We were to go outside across the street and line up by class room in front of the convent. I remember looking at the licks of fire coming out the windows and wondering if anyone would die in this and how long we would be off school. I had find Frank and Gerald Guzaldo who lived upstairs from us on Homan Ave. Michael Piscopo (Franks younger brother) and Frances. I rounded up all of my cousins I could find (all but the ones that died) and ran to Connie's a little restaurant on Chicago and Hamlin a block away, I knew they had a phone there. I called my mother, I still remember the phone number SA2-5698, to tell her what was happening and who I had found. She showed up soon after with my aunts.

    We went home to watch TV and listen to the radio for any news. My Father his Brother Cos and Brother-in-law Frank were searching the temp morgues to look for our missing family members. They finally found them.

    Boy what a day.

    We children were mostly kept in the dark about what the adults were doing, although we lost friends and family nothing much was ever discussed with us - to this day the fire is never discussed among the family.

    The attempted schooling to finish the year on WTTW Channel 11 then various public schools we were bused to turned out to be a mess.

    Today if a kid stubs their tow they bring in an army counselers we had the nuns who told us "GOD TOOK ONLY THE GOOD ONES" nice huh guess that was their idea of therapy. So we weren't good eneough to be "TAKEN" by GOD well guess this is one reason I have no religion today and haven't since that day in December 1958.

    I think this story needs to be told on the big screen. I think the corruption of the Church and the Daily administration needs to be shown for what it was. I would like to know why all the money the church collected went to the Nuns convent and elaborate church decorations, and we had to be schooled in a fire trap that failed fire inspedtion after fire inspection. I want the story told about how the survivors were treated and the few dollars that were given to sibilings of the dead children. How the mayor an Irish Catholic stifeled any attempt to sue the Church.
    As far as I am concerned the Catholic Church killed al those children by way of criminal neglence and greed."
    Last edited by Alanwench; 08-08-2012 at 02:48 PM.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  19. #419
    Nelliebean Guest
    Mike still sounds pretty pissed off.

  20. #420
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    @ Nellie Yes he does.

  21. #421
    Timeo Vitae Guest

    If I'm not mistaken, Mike Guzaldo passed away very recently. You can read his obit posted on the Main message board of the OLA site. His theology was never the same after the tragedy. He was hard on the Roman Catholic Church, parochial schools in general, and the Chicago Archdiocese. His posts always sounded bitter. Of course, I don't blame him.



    Frances Guzaldo was also one of three girls (Karen Hobik was one of the others) who had left their class to help as monitors for a younger grade. When they went back up to the second floor in the north wing, the saw smoke in the hall and instead of just leaving, went back to one of the classrooms to warn the others. By the time they told the Sister, the hall they just came from became impassable.
    Last edited by Timeo Vitae; 08-08-2012 at 03:30 PM.

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    As I am reading, so rudely interrupted by work, I keep wondering what that little bastard though while all this was going on. Did he stand on the sidewalk and watch his peers jump from the windows? Or did he run home scared like a little bitch?

  23. #423
    Nelliebean Guest
    So is the little pyro still alive or not??

  24. #424
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    OMG! I didn't realize Mike Guzaldo died! He had some major issues with the Catholic Church and spoke of being emotionally and physically abused by the teaching nuns. Mr. Guzaldo also gave me a recipe for spaghetti sauce that is delicious! It takes forever to make, but it's worth the effort.
    The arsonist went to the house of his Boy Scout troop's den mother. She called off the meeting and he was upset that the scouts didn't meet that night. He died in 2004.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  25. #425
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    According to the Webmaster at the OLA site, the Michael Guzaldo who passed away in March was Mike's cousin.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  26. #426
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    Sorry to keep hogging the thread, but I saw this at the OLA site.:
    "I just wanted to thank whomever the person or persons were who put the beautiful pinwheels on each childs grave at the Our Lady of the Angels monument at Queen of Heaven Cemetery. That was extremely kind and thoughtful of you!"
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  27. #427
    Timeo Vitae Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Alanwench View Post
    According to the Webmaster at the OLA site, the Michael Guzaldo who passed away in March was Mike's cousin.

    Well, then I'm glad I was mistaken. Though sadly, a person is still gone. Glad you were able to check that out.


    Also, is the spaghetti sauce really delicious? (If possible, and if neither of you'd mind..) Please do pass it on!

  28. #428
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    I'll be glad to pass on the recipe, but I need to find it first. <L> Since I haven't made it in quite some time, I need to go through some stuff to locate it.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  29. #429
    Timeo Vitae Guest


    No pressure Alan. I'll be around.

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    WTF Were They Thinking?

    Attachment 43020 I don't know if the photographer from the newspaper came up with this idea, but another picture exists with two students, unburned, in the same pose. Why single out this young girl who has survived a hellish experience and has the scars to prove it, then have her stand in front of a fire alarm?
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  31. #431
    Timeo Vitae Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Alanwench View Post
    Attachment 43020 I don't know if the photographer from the newspaper came up with this idea, but another picture exists with two students, unburned, in the same pose. Why single out this young girl who has survived a hellish experience and has the scars to prove it, then have her stand in front of a fire alarm?


    Great photo Alan, I haven't seen this one before. Oh man! Ruthless.

  32. #432
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    That pisses me off!

    I wonder who the girl was though.
    You robbed an international house of pancakes. How waffle-Harry T. Stone


    Twitter: @rchamberlain87 Follow me if you want. Just play nice.

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  33. #433
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    The girl's name is Theresa Whittaker. Her family should have sued the ignoranus (someone who is stupid AND an asshole) who put her in that picture. My guess is that she wanted to just fit in and not be singled out as a 'victim' or a 'burn.' It's painfully obvious that she lost her hair in the fire, or at least a good portion of it. Her head is covered with keloid scars and eschar. To make matters worse, the nun is pointing at the alarm as if to say, "You're safe from fire, now."
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  34. #434
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    I wonder if her account of the fire is up on the OLA site. I'm gonna go look.

    Damn. She died when she was 29.
    You robbed an international house of pancakes. How waffle-Harry T. Stone


    Twitter: @rchamberlain87 Follow me if you want. Just play nice.

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  35. #435
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    That's so sad! Toddmanning, do you mind if I ask how to find the info. about Theresa? I'd like to read more about her. Excellent work!
    Last edited by Alanwench; 08-09-2012 at 12:12 AM.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  36. #436
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    Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue in ruins of school

    One of the few surviving items on the second floor was this smoke blackened statue of Jesus. Attachment 43027
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  37. #437
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    As a Christian. I must say. That burnt up Jesus statue makes a statement to me.

    That he was really there comforting those kids during the fire. And, that he took the ones who died with him.
    You robbed an international house of pancakes. How waffle-Harry T. Stone


    Twitter: @rchamberlain87 Follow me if you want. Just play nice.

    Only the good die young....

  38. #438
    Timeo Vitae Guest
    I'm sure anyone who visits the OLA site has seen this photo of Teresa Whittaker. (room 210)


    http://www.olafire.com/Gallery.asp

  39. #439
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    Yep. I've seen that one before.

    Just could recognize her in the other pic.

    I'm a little off tonight you guys. Sorry.
    You robbed an international house of pancakes. How waffle-Harry T. Stone


    Twitter: @rchamberlain87 Follow me if you want. Just play nice.

    Only the good die young....

  40. #440
    Timeo Vitae Guest
    Why would you need to be sorry? I'm always out of it. Excellent detective work about Teresa Whittaker. How'd you find out? Was she the girl that Michele McBride spoke of being a recluse? I hope I'd have half the gumption and fortitude all these children had!

  41. #441
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    Toddmanning, I am moved by your words. I can't help but notice that everything around the statue was destroyed, but the figure of Jesus remained relatively unscathed.

    Quote Originally Posted by toddmanning View Post
    As a Christian. I must say. That burnt up Jesus statue makes a statement to me.

    That he was really there comforting those kids during the fire. And, that he took the ones who died with him.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  42. #442
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    Sarno Family's Story

    One Family's Story
    BY JAMES MURRAY and ED HADFIELD
    Ronnie Sarno's day began like many others.
    Ronnie, 10, crawled out of bed in the back bedroom of the second floor apartment at 3804 Chicago av., about 7:35 a.m.
    The floor was cold. Outside the sun was shining. The mercury stood at 19 degrees. It was the coldest school day since last Feb. 18.
    Ronnie discovered that his brother, Billy, 13, who shared the back bedroom, had beaten him by five minutes in the daily scramble for the bath.
    But Ronnie had a five-minute lead on his sister, Joanne.
    DAD'S AT TABLE
    After the usual splashing and snatching of towels, Ronnie and William donned long-sleeved shirts, ties, and dark slacks. Joanne put on white blouse and blue jumpers, regulation dress for pupils at Our Lady of the Angels School.
    Their dad, Oscar, 43, a truck driver, was at the table for breakfast, unusual for a week day. He was taking a day off to see a doctor at Garfield Park Hospital at 11 a.m.
    Mom was there, too, and, as usual, in charge. Joanne said the morning prayers.
    She and Ronnie decided they wanted only tea for breakfast. Billy wanted nothing at all.
    LEAVES AT 8:10 A.M.
    Ronnie left for school at 8:10. a.m. He had been instructed by the Sister teaching the fourth grade room on the second floor to come early to help distribute textbooks to the desks.
    He wasn't early enough. When he arrived another boy already had done his job.
    Billy left for the 8th grade class at 8:15 a.m., but Joanne in the fourth grade with Ronnie, waited until 8:25 a.m., then stopped next door at 3806 Chicago av. to call 7-year-old Dorothy Miceli and walk with her to school.
    All were in school when the bell rang at 8:40 a.m. Five minutes later, when the fourth grade Sister led the morning prayers, Joanne was in her seat in the second row from the windows. Ronnie sat in his a couple of rows closer to the door.
    MORNING ROUTINE
    The morning lessons were routine as far as Ronnie was concerned. He doesn't recall much about them. This is understandable in the light of later developments.
    When the morning session ended, he was the first one home. Joanne then arrived, and finally Billy.
    Mom??Catherine, 41, to the rest of the world??had soup and crackers, bologna sandwiches and milk ready for Joanne and Ronnie. For Billy there were his favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
    Dad hadn't yet returned from his appointment at the hospital.
    TALK ABOUT DENTIST
    Joanne asked when she was scheduled to go to the dentist, and Mom told her 7 o'clock in the evening. Ronnie started back to school about noon, telling his mother.
    ??Goodbye, Mom??don't work too hard.?
    Joanne and her mother left the apartment together. Mrs. Sarno was headed for her afternoon job as a typist. As she left, Billy, still inside, called.
    ??Bye??see you later!?.
    FATEFUL AFTERNOON
    In the afternoon session, the teacher gave Ronnie, Joanne and their classmates assignments in spelling and arithmetic. She then turned the class over to a lay teacher while she went to give religious instruction to another grade.
    When the sister returned, the class reviewed the arithmetic lesson. She demonstrated problems on the blackboard and called on Ronnie a couple of times to recite.
    The class was preparing to begin geography study when one of the hoys blurted out.
    ??Sister, I smell smoke!?.
    FIRE BELL RINGS
    Others did, too. They saw smoke creeping under the closed door. At that moment the fire bell rang. The sister opened the door, and swiftly slammed it shut as smoke billowed in.
    She ordered the youngsters to go to the windows, and to pray. Then there was a lot of pushing and screaming and coughing. The sister opened a window and shouted for help. The youngsters opened the other windows. Everyone was shouting and screaming.
    ASKS HER TO FOLLOW
    Ronnie and Joanne were within arm's reach at a window. The boy told his sister.
    ??I'm going to jump. Do you want to come??.
    As he went over the sill, he heard Joanne's voice.
    ??Don't jump! Don't jump, Ron!?.
    Ronnie landed on his feet and then flopped over on his back. He got up and brushed himself off. Dorothy Miceli's mother came along, holding Dorothy by the hand. Mrs. Miceli had rushed frantically to the school and had found her daughter, who with her little classmates had marched out of their first floor room in routine fire drill order.
    TAKES RONNIE HOME
    Through the turmoil and confusion, Mrs. Miceli led Dorothy and Ronnie, both without wraps, home through the cold. Ronnie's mother was still at work. His dad was at the school, searching for his children.
    About 4 p.m., Mrs. Sarno rushed home, beside herself with fear. Ronnie was there. But there was no word of Joanne or Billy. Ronnie didn't want to bother his mother with his own troubles, but he thought his left leg hurt. He told her finally. She took him to Garfield Park Community Hospital. Attendants found a small burn which they treated. They could find no other injury resulting from his jump.
    DAD COMES HOME
    Back home, Sarno came in defeated in his search but still hopeful. Relatives came rushing in. One hurried off to the morgue.
    There wasn't any supper, but no one missed it. Ronnie lay on a couch, covered with a blanket, occasionally weeping, surrounded by turmoil.
    About 9:30 p.m., hopes soared when someone telephoned that Joanne's little purse had been found in the schoolyard.
    Within minutes, the phone rang again. A relative at the morgue had definitely identified Joanne's body.
    GONE TO SLEEP
    Sarno took his wife in his arms. Ronnie demanded.
    ??Daddy, what is it??.
    Sarno replied.
    ??Son, Joanne has gone to sleep.?
    Ronnie shouted.
    ??You mean Joanne's dead ?? what about Billy??.
    And his father replied.
    ??We don't know yet, son.?
    The Sarno??nine of them by now??knelt on the floor, weeping and praying. Ronnie knelt on the couch, his blanket still around him. His prayer was loudest of all.
    ONE MORE RING
    The telephone bell broke in again. This time it was Billy's body that was identified. Ronnie sobbed himself into exhaustion. He whimpered.
    ??I don't want to go to school no more. I want Joanne and Billy.?
    At last someone carried him back to his lonely bed in the back bedroom. Eventually he fell into a fitful sleep.
    The parents, surrounded by solicitous relatives, sat together through the night, immersed in grief.
    It was a day none of them will ever get over.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  43. #443
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    Billy and Joanne Sarno

    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  44. #444
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    It must have been horrible for Ronnie growing up. The only sibling to survive. Terrible.

    Was he Joanne's twin. They were in the same class/grade. Correct?

    Also. Everyone feel free to call me by my real name. It's Selena. I've been around here long enough now to feel comfortable about people knowing who I am.

    Plus. Alan. You're awesome. Coming up with all this info as always.
    Last edited by Dr. Fishhead; 08-09-2012 at 01:44 AM.
    You robbed an international house of pancakes. How waffle-Harry T. Stone


    Twitter: @rchamberlain87 Follow me if you want. Just play nice.

    Only the good die young....

  45. #445
    luckyinlove Guest
    i found the house that our little firebug lived in from 2000 until his death....house looks ok, area looks shitty.

  46. #446
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    Can you PM me with the info LIL?
    You robbed an international house of pancakes. How waffle-Harry T. Stone


    Twitter: @rchamberlain87 Follow me if you want. Just play nice.

    Only the good die young....

  47. #447
    NYCJP Guest
    Hi all... I just learned about this fire this weekend when I was reading a story about the Winecoff Hotel fire in Atlanta, and I have been reading about it constantly ever since! For some reason, this tragedy pulls at so many of my emotional heartstrings, and I find it so sad and fascinating. While I went to a relatively modern public school, I think I can relate to this story in part because my mother and father were in kindergarten at the time of the fire in antiquated Catholic schools similar to OLA. I found this website, and on the recommendation of you guys, I bought To Sleep with the Angels and The Fire that Will Not Die. I'd like to know more about the very sick boy who set the fire, and I hope these books will shed some light on him. You all seem like very compassionate, nice people. Thank you all for the book recommendations and have a great day!

    One observation: I don't think the nuns intended any harm in what they told these children after the fire. I think they were trying to give them some consolation in the wake of a huge tragidy that claimed many of their young friends. That said, I didn't go to Catholic school and do not know any nuns especially well.

  48. #448
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    The Morgue

    The Morgue
    Dad Bends Down to Look - Then He Screams
    By Peter Reic.
    CHICAGO - Dec. 2, 1958 - On hastily erected wooden planking in the basement of the County Morgue they were laid out. The bodies of the children - 4th and 5th graders from Our Lady of the Angels grammar school.
    A young father, ashen-faced, expressionless, walked as in a trance between a nurse and a deputy coroner. The group paused. The deputy gently lifted a white cotton sheet mercifully covering the first of the seemingly endless row of small, still forms.
    A shock of blond hair, a bobby pin still holding a curl, was exposed to the cold white light of the morgue's bare light bulb.
    The father bent forward hesitantly. His lips quivered. The deputy lifted the sheet a little more.
    The young father shook his head. ??No,? he whispered hoarsely. It wasn't his daughter.
    The three figures moved silently to the next covered form.
    Again the deputy lifted the sheet. Again the father forced himself to bend forward for a closer look.
    Then it came. A scream. A deep-throated, anguished man's cry that strangled a second after it began - strangled because the father was screaming so hard he no longer could make a sound.
    Great, overwhelming sobs wrenched his body. He twisted from the nurse's restraining grip, flung himself on the dead form and lovingly cradled the lifeless head in his arms.
    He looked up then, his face hideously ravaged with grief, and nodding piteously, indicated he found what he had prayed so hard he wouldn't find.
    The strong arms of a policeman lifted him to his feet and supported him as he collapsed.
    It had begin hours earlier
    At 5:15 p.m., there were 42 fire victims bodies in the morgue. Police, coroner's deputies, doctors from adjacent County Hospital, and morgue personnel clustered in a lobby and a hallway.
    Just arriving were a number of priests - summoned to give comfort to bereaved families expected momentarily. Some priests came so hurriedly they hadn't even had time to don clerical garb.
    In Polk street, just south of the yellow brick building housing the County Morgue, ambulances were lined up nearly a block - red mars lights blinking eerily in the dusk of evening.
    A growing knot of silent spectators watched as the procession of ambulances delivered bodies to the morgue's east entrance.
    A woman said:
    ??My God, won't they ever stop coming??.
    At 5:34 p.m., body-laden stretchers were blocking the morgue's basement corridor ? the dead were arriving faster than an emergency team of attendance could place them in the viewing room.
    At 5:41 p.m., the count had grown to 58. the line of waiting ambulances had grown, too.
    Coroner McCarron directed deputies to show all arriving kin into the morgue's various inquest rooms, so grief-stricken parents and relatives could at least be seated while waiting to identify the bodies.
    The coroner also directed a team of County Hospital nurses to prepare smelling salts and strong coffee for the distraught kin. Nurses were instructed further to take names and descriptions of all missing youngsters being sought.
    The coroner added.
    ??Don't let anyone into the viewing room until I talk to them. We don't want to add more deaths from heart attacks to this ghastly tragedy.?
    To a reporter, he said:
    ??Have you seen them yet - the little ones, all burned up? My God, I don't know how I'll be able to take it. I've got five of my own, you know.?
    The coroner, frequently exposed to death and tragedy though he is, was very shaken.
    And still the bodies continued to arrive.
    A few minutes later, the count had reached 65.
    In the basement viewing room, the lifeless forms were gently placed on wooden planking, then covered with sheets.
    A small hand and arm showed from one. A child's wristwatch was strapped to it. The hands of the watch had stopped a little after 3 p.m.
    Morgue attendants and physicians now began the grim task of sorting bodies ? male and female ? larger and smaller. Item of identification, such as rings, or lockets, shoes or recognizable bits of clothing, were duly noted on charts. A doctor explained.
    ??The clothing isn't much help. Most of the kids wore uniforms, apparently.
    ??But personal items might help identify a youngster, and the sex and size classification will at least spare a parent the necessity of viewing all the bodies. A parent looking for a small daughter, for instance, will have to view only bodies in that category.?
    The doctor paused to pick up a slip of paper that had dropped on the floor, apparently from a pocket of one of the victims.
    It was a card with a child's prayer on it.
    Shortly before 6, the first parents arrived.
    A slim, young mother with dark hair and a husky man in a wind jacket are brought in by a man who identifies himself as Jay Staggs of 3027 Milwaukee av. He says.
    ??I'm a Chicago Civil Defense volunteer. I've driven these people to four different hospitals looking for their youngster. This is a last resort.
    Neither mother nor father betray emotion. The woman waits silently as the father asks, and receives, permission to view the bodies downstairs.
    As the father starts to inspect the ghastly array, a deputy calls him back. The deputy tells him.
    ??It's still too early, sir. There are 10 more bodies at St. Anne's Hospital, and Lord knows how many more elsewhere. It's no use putting you through this ordeal more than once. Please wait till we have all the kids here.
    The father agrees. He and his wife leave quietl.
    It is 6:15 p.m. The basement room is filled to capacity with small bodies row on row. A second third, even a fourth room are pressed into emergency service.
    A deputy announces the total number of bodies thus far received: 68.
    Now a steady stream of parents and relatives enters the morgue, all seeking a youngster who did not return from school.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  49. #449
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    The Morgue, Part 2

    In the shuffling, dread-filled crowd that fills the lobby, snatches and fits of conversation are heard.
    A young mother.
    ??I wanted to ask his teacher if she saw what happened to Johnny, but she's dead.?
    A nun.
    ??I was about to release the patrol boys. It was shortly before 3 o'clock when I first smelled the smoke.
    A young man in the white gown of an intern.
    ??I can't take this. I've got to get some fresh air before I go downstairs again. These poor little kids.?
    A father tells a policeman.
    ??My little girl was wearing a little gold ring with a purple stone. Will that help??.
    A priest to a woman near collapse.
    ??There still are a lot of children unaccounted for. Perhaps your youngster is not even here. You must not despair.
    An elderly couple to a policeman.
    ??We're looking for Joanne Sciolino. She's 11. We're her aunt and uncle. Can we see if she's downstairs??.
    At 7 p.m., the count had risen to 78. A few minutes later, to 83.
    A deputy coroner tells a morgue attendant numbering a registration sheet.
    ??You'd better leave room for a hundred names.?
    Another familiar face in the crowd, Ald. Patrick Petrone, in whose ward the fire occurred, helps several bereaved families coordinate search efforts by telephoning hospitals and friends.
    Downstairs, another flurry of activity as nurses rush to the aid of a mother who has lost consciousness on seeing the array of bodies.
    Thirty feet away, a father clutches his face with both hands as he acknowledges identity of a youngster as his.
    Except for the intermittent cries of anguish that mark identification of another youngster's body, the morgue is quiet.
    Even at this stage, hours after the tragedy, the impact is too great: the horror to overwhelming.
    Most simply are too stunned to react.
    A father near exhaustion, after viewing numerous bodies in a vain quest for his son, aged 10, he tells an attendant.
    ??I want to see the other bodies, too. I must find my son.?
    Later, the attendant tells a reporter.
    ??The bodies we didn't let him see wouldn't have done him any good to see. They're too charred to be recognizable.
    Another father, his eyes blank from horror and shock, staggers by. In his hand he clutches the contents of one victim's pockets - a nickel, a piece of string, a toy propeller, and a key. Those items tell him all he needs to know.
    By 8:06 p.m., the body count has risen to 87, with a scant dozen identified. The crowds at the morgue continue to grow.
    An hour later, 90 bodies are counted.
    The grim task of trying to identify them continues.
    The hollow-eyed men and woman aimlessly wandering corridors of the morgue, waiting their turn to view the remains, know in their hearts they'll find the worst.
    But some - just a fortunate few - are wrong.
    Like Joseph Dembinski, for instance.
    He is about to resign all hope when a deputy tells him.
    ??I have good news, sir. Linda Zeogone, the niece you are seeking, isn't here. We have found out she is safe at one of the hospitals.?
    But Joseph Dembinski is the exception.
    For the vast majority of other people at the morgue, there is not awakening from the nightmare.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  50. #450
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alanwench View Post
    I'll be glad to pass on the recipe, but I need to find it first. <L> Since I haven't made it in quite some time, I need to go through some stuff to locate it.
    Me too!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alanwench View Post
    Attachment 43020 I don't know if the photographer from the newspaper came up with this idea, but another picture exists with two students, unburned, in the same pose. Why single out this young girl who has survived a hellish experience and has the scars to prove it, then have her stand in front of a fire alarm?
    This royally pisses me off. To have her even look at that fire alarm makes me want to strangle someone.

    I went to Catholic school similar to OLA. Even in the late 70s/80's everything that occurred was covered up. There was a student in my class who suddenly disappeared one day. 20 years later, I found out a priest in my parish was arrested for molestation. The boy was the victim. Such bullshit.

    Quote Originally Posted by toddmanning View Post
    I wonder if her account of the fire is up on the OLA site. I'm gonna go look.

    Damn. She died when she was 29.
    So beyond sad.

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