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Thread: Our Lady of the Angels school fire

  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by STsFirstmate View Post
    A new school was built on the site. I would not want to be there working late alone!
    I found this:
    Our Lady of the Angels - Haunted? A young woman attending the new school in the years after the fire reported hearing screaming and sensing a presence in the hallway when she was alone there. Later she drew faces of the victims she saw in her dreams. A mother saw her dead son come to console her. A girl was also reportedly consoled by her dead sister. At the Fire Memorial in Queen of Heaven Cemetery where 25 child victims are buried, some people say they can sometimes smell the smoke from the fire. And in the rebuilt school, built on the exact site of the old school, many find they have strong feelings of apprehension. Haunted? Who knows.


    Regards,
    Mary
    It may very well be haunted. Usually in areas where tragedies like this happened, spirits do not rest from either losing their way to the light or not knowing or accepted that they are died.

    This is a really sad story. Looking at the pictures of all of the caskets broke my heart
    http://www.findadeath.com/forum/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1752&dateline=1264924651

  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaxyMillions View Post
    If I didn't have two lazy cats lying on me I could go find the title.
    LOL you sound like me. I have 3 cats (all girls) and at times can't move at all because my lap is being held "captive". My laptop spends a lot of time on an armrest to make room for my Queens. I am an expert at typing with 1 hand LOL.
    http://www.findadeath.com/forum/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1752&dateline=1264924651

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    They should have released the name of the youthful arsonist. Whyever not? Pyromania is just as incurable as pedophilia, and perhaps it could have saved some lives down the line.
    Plus he--- and his family who, I assume, hoped to protect him--- just simply DESERVED to have his life "ruined" and perhaps some medieval justice. A kid that age knows PERFECTLY WELL the possible consequences of his actions.
    WHY the hell--- HOW the hell--- is ANYONE supposed to FORGIVE the heartless murderer of his schoolmates and teachers?

  4. #54
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    How did I ever miss this thread?!? Growing up in Chicago, I went to this church when I was young. It is now called "Our Lady of Lourdes". Beautiful church with a beautiful grotto built in it. I never really knew the story of the fire.Just that when I was very young, it wasn't really mentioned. I remember coming home and finding my Mother in tears talking about what happened. It was such a tragedy in Chicago.

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    Never mind my last post. This was a whole separate story. Different church. Did I get an old childhood story confused or am I just senile now? Anyways, sorry, I was thinking of Our Lady of Lourdes.

  6. #56
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    What a tragedy. So many innocent lives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Linnie View Post
    They should have released the name of the youthful arsonist. Whyever not? Pyromania is just as incurable as pedophilia, and perhaps it could have saved some lives down the line.
    Plus he--- and his family who, I assume, hoped to protect him--- just simply DESERVED to have his life "ruined" and perhaps some medieval justice. A kid that age knows PERFECTLY WELL the possible consequences of his actions.
    WHY the hell--- HOW the hell--- is ANYONE supposed to FORGIVE the heartless murderer of his schoolmates and teachers?

    I completely agree, Linnie. AFTER this little shit killed all those kids and teachers, he set another fire that killed someone else!! And having to masterbate so bad he does it in a police interrogation room??? This kid was sick and no telling how many other poor innocents died because he was protected. I hope the laws aren't still the same.

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    Excellent film taken at the time of the fire here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLhO25vBT5c

    To me, this film really brings the story to life. Warning: There is footage in there of a fireman carrying the lifeless body of a girl down a ladder. It appears to be the same girl from a still photo on the http://www.olafire.com/ site.

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by racingfan View Post
    Excellent film taken at the time of the fire here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLhO25vBT5c

    To me, this film really brings the story to life. Warning: There is footage in there of a fireman carrying the lifeless body of a girl down a ladder. It appears to be the same girl from a still photo on the http://www.olafire.com/ site.

    Great find love!!!! That is the same girl from the photo. Also there is the footage of the nun being carried down as well.


    "I will be buried in a spring loaded casket filled with confetti, and a future archaeologist will have one awesome day at work."

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    Quote Originally Posted by racingfan View Post
    Excellent film taken at the time of the fire here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLhO25vBT5c

    To me, this film really brings the story to life. Warning: There is footage in there of a fireman carrying the lifeless body of a girl down a ladder. It appears to be the same girl from a still photo on the http://www.olafire.com/ site.
    Great post, great film. You are right they just look so lost and confused while still trying as best they can to deal with a very bed situation.
    The greiving parents films really got to me.
    Thank you for the post!
    Regards,
    Mary

  11. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Linnie View Post
    They should have released the name of the youthful arsonist. Whyever not? Pyromania is just as incurable as pedophilia, and perhaps it could have saved some lives down the line.
    Plus he--- and his family who, I assume, hoped to protect him--- just simply DESERVED to have his life "ruined" and perhaps some medieval justice. A kid that age knows PERFECTLY WELL the possible consequences of his actions.
    WHY the hell--- HOW the hell--- is ANYONE supposed to FORGIVE the heartless murderer of his schoolmates and teachers?

    Could not have said it better myself Linnie!
    http://www.findadeath.com/forum/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1752&dateline=1264924651

  12. #62
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    Thanks! I'm reading "To Sleep With the Angels," and even though the authors describe everything in painstaking detail, this video makes it all the more real. Chilling and pretty upsetting.

  13. #63
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    Hey Mary where was the story about the boy who thought he saw his sister?


    "I will be buried in a spring loaded casket filled with confetti, and a future archaeologist will have one awesome day at work."

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    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,6650568.story
    chicagotribune.com

    Our Lady of the Angels: The fire that 'changed everything'

    By Rex W. Huppke
    Tribune reporter
    November 29, 2008

    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.

    A wire story from that day captured a fragment of the desperation:

    "Max Stachura stood outside the burning building, begging his little boy, Mark, 9, to jump into his arms. Children were falling all about the father and he caught or stopped the fall of 12 of them. But little Mark was too frightened or he didn't understand his father. Mark didn't jump."

    Fifty years later, Mark's mother has the day in crisp focus, and adds a missing detail.

    As Mark stood at that second-floor window, fire to his back, he held a small statue in his hand and waved it proudly through the black smoke, hoping his father would notice. Mark had won the statue that day — a figure of an infant Jesus — for being first to answer a quiz question.

    "I guess he was just so proud of that prize," said Mary Stachura, now in a retirement home in Bartlett. "I don't think he really understood what was happening."

    Few of the children trapped in the school could have grasped the enormity of the danger they faced, and few of the panicky adults on the ground — parents and neighbors and firefighters — had time to reflect. They acted, grabbing ladders of all lengths from garages, reaching through broken windows to haul small, waterlogged bodies from the flames.

    Max Stachura watched as other children pushed his son back, away from the window and into the flames. The boy was later identified by a homework sheet crumpled in his pocket.

    Max rarely spoke of that day. He died suddenly of a heart attack at 52.

    "He was much too young," said Mary, now 85. "That fire. It changed everything."

    The fire at Our Lady of the Angels remains one of the worst tragedies in Chicago's history, a ghastly few hours on a cold, sunny afternoon that shattered families and knocked a hopeful, growing community forever off its path.

    The cause of the fire was never officially determined, and no one was held accountable. Some parents who lost a child--or children-- found ways to blame each other and wound up divorced. Others sold their tidy two flats and moved away, hastening the flight of the middle class from the city's West Side.

    "It seems as though people just couldn't get far enough away," said Jill Grannan, a curator at the Chicago History Museum. "That school and that parish is one that had a lot of people. It had a growing population. There was such a boom, and then people really just had to leave.

    "I don't think the community ever really came back."

    Few in the neighborhood now would recall the blaze. But for parents and firefighters, journalists and now-grown schoolchildren, the memories remain etched in intricate detail.

    Steve Lasker, then a photographer for The Chicago American newspaper, was driving along Grand Avenue, heading to his newsroom after an assignment in Elmwood Park. He heard a call come over a radio tuned to the police frequency: "They're jumping out the windows!"

    "But I didn't know where it was," Lasker said. A fire engine cut in front of him and he quickly turned to follow. He parked on Iowa Street and headed toward the smoke, stopping abruptly when he saw the school on Avers Avenue in flames.


    "I will be buried in a spring loaded casket filled with confetti, and a future archaeologist will have one awesome day at work."

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    "I froze for a few seconds, or maybe it was minutes, I don't know, I couldn't tell," said Lasker, now 78. "Oh my God, there's still kids in there. Mayhem was going on and they started pulling kids out of there left and right."

    From atop a fire truck, Lasker shot one of the most iconic photos of the day. It showed a helmeted firefighter, his face drawn in sorrow, carrying the soaking wet, lifeless body of 10-year-old John Jajkowski Jr. from the building.

    Just 28 and the father of a 6-month-old girl, Lasker felt his stomach churn as he watched the rescue through the lens of his camera. The cold wind froze tracks of tears on his face. Though many photos were published, 20 years would pass before he would voluntarily show them to anyone.

    "I didn't want to re-live it," he said. "To this day I still have dreams about that horrible scene."

    He held close to his family through the years, and was, perhaps, over-protective of his kids: "Tragedy hits home. Everybody's home."

    Grace Riley never saw the fire, but she faced its aftermath in the worst of ways. She was 23 at the time, an emergency room nurse and a newlywed.

    The first ambulance arrived without warning at St. Anne's Hospital that afternoon, carrying six boys from the 7th and 8th grades, and one 1st-grade girl. The doctors and nurses didn't know what had happened but immediately set to work, Riley caring for the little girl.

    "I was cutting her clothes off and I hear her say, 'Oh nurse, my face hurts so bad.' And I looked up and her face was totally burned."

    As more children were carted in, the acrid smell of burnt flesh became overwhelming — it sticks with Riley to this day. She helped place bodies of the dead on the floor so gurneys were available for the living.

    "Ambulance by ambulance by ambulance, they just kept coming," Riley said. "It was just earth-shattering to look into a room and see all those little bodies, and to see the parents screaming, 'Where is my child? Where is my child?'"

    Riley left emergency room nursing shortly after the fire. She just couldn't do it anymore.

    Now 73 and a hospice nurse in Arizona, she recalled the day of the fire and how instead of assisting doctors with the injured she focused on cataloging the children who were dead on arrival. She carries guilt over that decision.

    "I just couldn't bring myself to go up to pediatrics to help out. I just couldn't do it," Riley said. "As a nurse you're supposed to put your own feelings aside. But I could not handle the smell of burnt skin and the pain that these kids were going through."

    Long after any wounds from the fire healed, after the bodies of the dead were honored in mass funeral services and schools across Chicago and the nation embraced new standards for fire safety, the pain lingers.


    "I will be buried in a spring loaded casket filled with confetti, and a future archaeologist will have one awesome day at work."

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    Ken Leonard was only 9 at the time, a 4th grader in room 210. He wound up on the window ledge, too afraid to jump, too scared to realize flames were burning the backs of his legs.

    A fireman made it up a ladder and hoisted him to safety. He spent 10 days in the hospital with 2nd-degree burns -– his two brothers escaped the school unharmed.

    The three Leonard boys would all go on to serve in Vietnam. Again, they all made it out alive. Ken wound up a firefighter in Oak Lawn, rising to become chief before he retired in 2001.

    Throughout his career, he kept memories of the Our Lady of the Angels fire to himself, and he still struggles to speak of that day.

    "When I first got in the job, I was trying to tell my co-workers the story, but I just couldn't do it," Leonard said, voice cracking. "I assumed as time went on, it would get easier. But it never does."

    Some say they were able to put the tragedy behind them, though they speak in an uncertain tone of moving on. Others lament the lack of counseling in the wake of the tragedy, saying the custom of the time — to bottle up emotions and go on living — never allowed them to come to terms with their feelings.

    And some still search for answers.

    Robert Chiappetta, who survived the fire but lost his sister, Joan Anne, has spent the past 15 years obsessively researching a book about what happened at Our Lady of the Angels. Though no investigation ever found fault with the Catholic church, which ran the school, or with city fire inspectors, Chiappetta believes there was a widespread coverup.

    "They had created a fire trap in there," he said, surrounded by court documents at his kitchen table in Elmwood Park. "People will see this was the crime of the century."

    Chiappetta's parents, after searching several hospitals the night of the fire, found his sister's body near midnight in the Cook County morgue. She could only be identified by a gold chain around her neck, one her uncle had brought her from Italy.

    In the weeks after the fire, after Mary and Max Stachura had buried their son, a nun from the school explained the statue Mark had been waving at his father. She gave Mary a similar one as a keepsake. Mary still has that statue. It's kept in a trunk in her apartment — like memories of that day, it's always nearby, just not in plain sight.

    Sitting recently with her younger son, John, who was in a building at the school that didn't burn that day, Mary showed a cherished, sepia-toned class picture of Mark. She still has the shirt and tie he wore in the picture.

    "I told John that when I die, bury that shirt and that tie with me," she said. "My little boy will always be with me."

    rhuppke@tribune.com Copyright © 2010, Chicago Tribune


    "I will be buried in a spring loaded casket filled with confetti, and a future archaeologist will have one awesome day at work."

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Linnie View Post
    They should have released the name of the youthful arsonist. Whyever not? Pyromania is just as incurable as pedophilia, and perhaps it could have saved some lives down the line.
    Plus he--- and his family who, I assume, hoped to protect him--- just simply DESERVED to have his life "ruined" and perhaps some medieval justice. A kid that age knows PERFECTLY WELL the possible consequences of his actions.
    WHY the hell--- HOW the hell--- is ANYONE supposed to FORGIVE the heartless murderer of his schoolmates and teachers?
    According to Wikipedia, the arsonist died in 2004. I wonder if there's any way to find out who he was, now that he's dead.

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    Does anyone know the names of the asphyxiated little girls being carried out of room 212?

    Also, morbid this may be, are there any pictures of the bodies when they were at the morgue? Just curious... I know they might be graphic. Does anyone have info on particular conditions of the bodies of those burned beyond recognition?

    One of the most haunting lines recounting the fire and its aftermath. One victim's aunt recalled, "When we buried her, she didn't have fingers." Chilling

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    Quote Originally Posted by LightoftheMoon View Post
    Does anyone know the names of the asphyxiated little girls being carried out of room 212?

    Also, morbid this may be, are there any pictures of the bodies when they were at the morgue? Just curious... I know they might be graphic. Does anyone have info on particular conditions of the bodies of those burned beyond recognition?

    One of the most haunting lines recounting the fire and its aftermath. One victim's aunt recalled, "When we buried her, she didn't have fingers." Chilling
    If you follow this link posted in earlier posts and carefully go through the links along the top all the information is there.
    Victims room by room, survivor stories, photos and captions. A lot of info if you are patient and take you time going through it.
    http://www.olafire.com/
    Regards,
    Mary

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    Quote Originally Posted by STsFirstmate View Post
    If you follow this link posted in earlier posts and carefully go through the links along the top all the information is there.
    Victims room by room, survivor stories, photos and captions. A lot of info if you are patient and take you time going through it.
    http://www.olafire.com/
    Regards,
    Mary
    There are no pictures of the victims in the morgue. A lady who lost her sister in the fire said that her husband went to identify her sister's body. He is still haunted by what he saw. The sister was 13 and lost one arm and one leg in the fire due to being burned so badly that her limbs simply fell off. I don't know if the bones were identified as hers or if bones were even found.
    Oddly enough, I started e-mailing with the woman when she commented on a column I wrote about "The Young and the Restless." I used to write for Genoa City News. As I got to know her, she told me about her sister, Carol Ann.
    Last edited by Alanwench; 03-22-2010 at 03:24 PM. Reason: Misspelling
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  21. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biter View Post
    According to Wikipedia, the arsonist died in 2004. I wonder if there's any way to find out who he was, now that he's dead.
    The man who owns and operates the OLA website knows the name of the arsonist, but he firmly refuses to release it due to the fact that the arsonist may have children/grandchildren and he wants to protect them. It isn't their fault that their father or grandfather was mentally ill. I've wanted to know his name all along. He killed a total of either 104 or 105 victims by the time he was 13. There was a fire Cicero that he set which killed the people who weren't at OLA. He allegedly said he disliked some people who were rooming with him, his mother and father.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

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    Thanks for the link. Many of the tributes are so beautiful. What's so haunting is that some of the parents and/or siblings of the victims died of what could be considered broken hearts.

    In talking about one victim and her brother who also met an untimely death, as well as their parents:

    "It grieved all our hearts when he passed as well, but they are together now, the whole family again."

    I found one news article on Google (I will post links later). A father says, "What can you say about a little girl, except that we loved her?"

    A mother says, "I can't believe she's gone. Maybe she'll come back..."

    Heartbreaking.

  23. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by LightoftheMoon View Post
    Does anyone know the names of the asphyxiated little girls being carried out of room 212?

    Also, morbid this may be, are there any pictures of the bodies when they were at the morgue? Just curious... I know they might be graphic. Does anyone have info on particular conditions of the bodies of those burned beyond recognition?

    One of the most haunting lines recounting the fire and its aftermath. One victim's aunt recalled, "When we buried her, she didn't have fingers." Chilling

    Try here to find her. I can't tell http://www.olafire.com/VictimGallery.asp?Room=212


    "I will be buried in a spring loaded casket filled with confetti, and a future archaeologist will have one awesome day at work."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alanwench View Post
    The man who owns and operates the OLA website knows the name of the arsonist, but he firmly refuses to release it due to the fact that the arsonist may have children/grandchildren and he wants to protect them. It isn't their fault that their father or grandfather was mentally ill. I've wanted to know his name all along. He killed a total of either 104 or 105 victims by the time he was 13. There was a fire Cicero that he set which killed the people who weren't at OLA. He allegedly said he disliked some people who were rooming with him, his mother and father.
    Well, if that mental illness was in any way hereditary, if any one of those children and grandchildren goes / has gone off his/her head and starts doing something destructive, this choice may be something to regret.
    Sounds like the "deal with the devil" that was made with the killers of Jamie Bulger, etc., and now they're paying the price.
    Arsonist must have been a real con artist to get someone to marry him in the first place, because he sounds like he was a thoroughly unpleasant person to deal with if he was PO'd at someone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Linnie View Post
    Well, if that mental illness was in any way hereditary, if any one of those children and grandchildren goes / has gone off his/her head and starts doing something destructive, this choice may be something to regret.
    Sounds like the "deal with the devil" that was made with the killers of Jamie Bulger, etc., and now they're paying the price.
    Arsonist must have been a real con artist to get someone to marry him in the first place, because he sounds like he was a thoroughly unpleasant person to deal with if he was PO'd at someone.
    I don't know if the guy ever got married or had a family. Something tells me that he did, but the guy who owns and operates the OLA site is saying nothing.
    ITA, if the mental illness is carried in the genes, kids or grandkids could be a risk without even knowing about the arson.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

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    OLA Fire

    52 years ago today, the fire at Our Lady of the Angels school claimed the lives of 92 children and three teaching nuns.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

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    Damn.. time goes by so fast


    "I will be buried in a spring loaded casket filled with confetti, and a future archaeologist will have one awesome day at work."

  28. #78
    In 2005, David Cowan, co-author of "To Sleep With the Angels: The
    Story of a Fire" pleads guilty to arson:

    From the Chicago Tribune--

    Author pleads guilty in fire
    Ex-firefighter gets 3 years for arson

    By Jeff Coen
    Tribune staff reporter
    Published December 20, 2005

    David Cowan, who co-authored a book on the 1958 Our Lady of the Angels School fire, pleaded guilty Monday to setting a fire earlier this year in a storage building on the grounds of St. Benedict Church.

    The former Bellwood firefighter pleaded guilty to one count of arson
    and was sentenced to 3 years in prison by Criminal Court Judge Dennis
    Porter.

    Cowan's lawyer, Thomas Durkin, said his client had resigned himself to
    the idea that he would not be able to make bond while his case was
    pending, and wanted to get it behind him. Durkin said Cowan has been
    taking medication for bipolar disorder.

    "He'd very much like to be with his children, particularly at this
    time of year, but he understands the situation," Durkin said. "He's
    hoping very much to get to continue treatment and become again a
    contributor to society, as he's always been."

    Cowan, of the 3800 block of North Ravenswood Avenue, told the judge he was "extremely remorseful" for setting the fire. Durkin said the
    incident was a result of Cowan's condition and troubled domestic
    situation. Cowan is now estranged from his wife, the lawyer said.

    Cowan could have been sentenced to up to 7 years. His attorney had
    sought probation in the case, while Assistant State's Atty. Rich
    Lovell asked Porter to sentence the author to 6 years.

    Before Cowan was sentenced, Lovell reminded the judge about telephone threats the author allegedly had made to his brother-in-law, a Chicago police sergeant. The day before the fire, he had threatened to stab his brother-in-law and hide his body.

    Lovell said Cowan also had broken a window of the storage building
    after starting the blaze, Lovell said, "to facilitate the spread of
    the fire." No one was injured in the blaze.

    Cowan recently had been fired from his job as a janitor of the church,
    at 2215 W. Irving Park Rd., and his lawyer has said he had a problem
    with alcohol. Authorities said his wife, who regularly parked a tour
    bus on the grounds of the church, was returning from a planned trip
    June 9 as he apparently started the fire.

    He is the co-author of the book titled "To Sleep With the Angels: The
    Story of a Fire," which has been considered an authoritative work on
    the blaze that killed 92 children. Other books he has authored include
    "Great Chicago Fires: Historic Blazes That Shaped a City." Porter
    reminded Cowan that arson is a "very serious crime," that can cause "a
    lot of bad things to happen."

    Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...calchicago-hed

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    Odd factoid: Journey pianist, Jon Cain (birth name Jonathan Friga) was a survivor of OLA church fire and has spoken publicly about his experiences and the aftermath of enduring such tragedy at a young age.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JudyAnn View Post
    Odd factoid: Journey pianist, Jon Cain (birth name Jonathan Friga) was a survivor of OLA church fire and has spoken publicly about his experiences and the aftermath of enduring such tragedy at a young age.
    Really? Wow, I didn't know that. Thanks for the odd factoid JudyAnn!

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    Reading this thread has me in tears. Those poor precious children and the teaching nuns! The photos of the children being carried out by the firemen kills me. Their faces... I can't get over the sadness and horrific pain they must have felt then and the rest of their lives. The survivors...my heart goes out to them and their families.

    I have boys around this age and if something like this happened to them, they'll have to bury me with them.
    Herman Munster: [reading a poem he wrote as an advertising jingle for his mortuary employer] When your days on earth are over / And you've gone to your reward, / Let us put you 'neath the clover / At a price you can afford.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Frazzzld Kat View Post
    Really? Wow, I didn't know that. Thanks for the odd factoid JudyAnn!
    Ditto!

    And I'm a humongous Journey fan!
    Herman Munster: [reading a poem he wrote as an advertising jingle for his mortuary employer] When your days on earth are over / And you've gone to your reward, / Let us put you 'neath the clover / At a price you can afford.


  33. #83
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    How ironic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Missy Lucy View Post
    In 2005, David Cowan, co-author of "To Sleep With the Angels: The
    Story of a Fire" pleads guilty to arson:

    From the Chicago Tribune--

    Author pleads guilty in fire
    Ex-firefighter gets 3 years for arson

    By Jeff Coen
    Tribune staff reporter
    Published December 20, 2005

    David Cowan, who co-authored a book on the 1958 Our Lady of the Angels School fire, pleaded guilty Monday to setting a fire earlier this year in a storage building on the grounds of St. Benedict Church.

    The former Bellwood firefighter pleaded guilty to one count of arson
    and was sentenced to 3 years in prison by Criminal Court Judge Dennis
    Porter.

    Cowan's lawyer, Thomas Durkin, said his client had resigned himself to
    the idea that he would not be able to make bond while his case was
    pending, and wanted to get it behind him. Durkin said Cowan has been
    taking medication for bipolar disorder.

    "He'd very much like to be with his children, particularly at this
    time of year, but he understands the situation," Durkin said. "He's
    hoping very much to get to continue treatment and become again a
    contributor to society, as he's always been."

    Cowan, of the 3800 block of North Ravenswood Avenue, told the judge he was "extremely remorseful" for setting the fire. Durkin said the
    incident was a result of Cowan's condition and troubled domestic
    situation. Cowan is now estranged from his wife, the lawyer said.

    Cowan could have been sentenced to up to 7 years. His attorney had
    sought probation in the case, while Assistant State's Atty. Rich
    Lovell asked Porter to sentence the author to 6 years.

    Before Cowan was sentenced, Lovell reminded the judge about telephone threats the author allegedly had made to his brother-in-law, a Chicago police sergeant. The day before the fire, he had threatened to stab his brother-in-law and hide his body.

    Lovell said Cowan also had broken a window of the storage building
    after starting the blaze, Lovell said, "to facilitate the spread of
    the fire." No one was injured in the blaze.

    Cowan recently had been fired from his job as a janitor of the church,
    at 2215 W. Irving Park Rd., and his lawyer has said he had a problem
    with alcohol. Authorities said his wife, who regularly parked a tour
    bus on the grounds of the church, was returning from a planned trip
    June 9 as he apparently started the fire.

    He is the co-author of the book titled "To Sleep With the Angels: The
    Story of a Fire," which has been considered an authoritative work on
    the blaze that killed 92 children. Other books he has authored include
    "Great Chicago Fires: Historic Blazes That Shaped a City." Porter
    reminded Cowan that arson is a "very serious crime," that can cause "a
    lot of bad things to happen."

    Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...calchicago-hed
    Herman Munster: [reading a poem he wrote as an advertising jingle for his mortuary employer] When your days on earth are over / And you've gone to your reward, / Let us put you 'neath the clover / At a price you can afford.


  34. #84
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    The LOA tragedy had a very personal meaning to me, but not for the reasons you might imagine. My birthday is December 1. I had turned 12 on that day in 1958 and, for the first time in my life, was going to be allowed to have a birthday party. Nothing big or lavish, like today's kid celebrations, but I had been looking forward to it for weeks. When my mother picked me up that afternoon at my suburban Chicago school, she told me my party was cancelled because "children are burning up in a Chicago school". In one way, there wasn't really any surprise that she found a way to again destroy any pleasure I had been anticipating. She was my very own Mommie Dearest. But, in a weird way, I somehow managed to carry a feeling of personal guilt with me for years afterward. Like the coincidence of the date should have made me share the horror rather than just lose the only birthday celebration I would ever have been allowed.

    I've never talked to anyone about that day, and its aftermath for me. Reading this thread just compelled me to finally put it out there. Thanks for listening.

  35. #85
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    Thank you for sharing, HistoryBuff.

    Wow...I'm so sorry you carried this pain your whole life. *hug*
    Herman Munster: [reading a poem he wrote as an advertising jingle for his mortuary employer] When your days on earth are over / And you've gone to your reward, / Let us put you 'neath the clover / At a price you can afford.


  36. #86
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    HistoryBuff~ Sorry about the way your mom chose to deal with the situation.

  37. #87
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    I'm back to post the ink to Jon Cain's website that includes music Jon composed to memorialize the victims of the OLA tragedy. Rock on!

    http://www.jonathancain.com/bio/2008ola/2008ola.htm

  38. #88
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    I have been reading the survivor storys for hours on Our Lady of Anges website. I found myself not being able to stop reading......now I'm so sad! I still remember when this happen, but I was just a kid. Gawd, how awful. Anyone here read "To Sleep with the Angels". It has excellent reviews. Want to read it but afraid of being more depressed

  39. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by JudyAnn View Post
    Odd factoid: Journey pianist, Jon Cain (birth name Jonathan Friga) was a survivor of OLA church fire and has spoken publicly about his experiences and the aftermath of enduring such tragedy at a young age.
    Jon Cain wrote and performed "The Day They Became Angels" at the 50th anniversary mass. You can hear the song on his website.
    Oops, sorry, JudyAnn, I just noticed that you already posted the info.
    Last edited by Alanwench; 12-03-2010 at 01:21 AM.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  40. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicki View Post
    I have been reading the survivor storys for hours on Our Lady of Anges website. I found myself not being able to stop reading......now I'm so sad! I still remember when this happen, but I was just a kid. Gawd, how awful. Anyone here read "To Sleep with the Angels". It has excellent reviews. Want to read it but afraid of being more depressed
    The book is extremely well-written and it's heart-wrenching. Two years ago, John Kuenster wrote Remembrances of the Angels with additional interviews not included in the first book.
    Last edited by Alanwench; 12-03-2010 at 01:20 AM. Reason: cleaned up text
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  41. #91
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    Exerpt from 1958 news article about fire

    Fireman's QuestionThen the spell breaks. A fireman carrying a pickax says:“Hey, reporter, you got any dry cigarets?”The answer is no.“Well, then can you tell me how many are dead?”The answer stuns him.He points to a mound of debris in the second-floor classroom, caused by the cave-in of a section of roof.“There may be more in there,” he says.Charred and soaked school-books, plaster and cinders are ankle-deep on the floor. A copy of Charlotte Bronte's “Jane Eyre” has covers singed off.Then there is an eighth-grade spelling book. Among the words its owner spelled right were “skeleton,” “ambulance,” “safety,” “sadistic.”And neatly handwritten is the sentence:“What is the definition of 'fiery'?”One girl wrote the sentence before she died.In another second-floor classroom, geography books left on the desk tops remain open.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  42. #92
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    Another exerpt, "Come on out, Son."

    “ Come On Out, Son.” Next day Chicago dazedly, sadly, tried to find out what had gone wrong. Known point was that the second-floor fire doors had been left open, making a flue for the flames. Not known was how the fire had started at the foot of the stair well itself. A cigarette tossed into wastepaper in the basement? Spontaneous combustion.And dazedly the neighborhood was left to fathom the unfathomable. Dead was Joseph Modica, 9, who was almost through making a Christmas present for his family out of letters cut from a cereal box and glued onto a backing. It read: I, Joseph, promise to do my best do do my duty to God and my country, to be square and to … Alive was Kenny Travers, 7, whose mother told a reporter. “I hugged him and hugged him” - whereupon Kenny interrupted, “And you said I can get candy whenever I want it.” Two days later police watched understandingly as a man beat his hands against the door of Our Lady of the Angels, crying: “Come on out now, son. I'm out here waiting for you.”Behind that door, black laths hung down like macabre pennants. Jagged bits of glass were yellowed by the heat. Desks were overturned, heaped with rubble. A ballpoint pen lay here, a plastic billfold embossed Ponytail there. Charred coats still hung on hooks. A couple of odd shoes, one a loafer, one red-strapped, lay together filled with ice from fire hoses' water. On top of one blackboard, black letters still read: Come, Little Lord, here is Thy bed.

    I read in another article that Joseph Modica escaped the building only to return to the dense smoke and flames in search of his sister. He didn't realize that his sister had also escaped the blaze.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  43. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicki View Post
    I have been reading the survivor storys for hours on Our Lady of Anges website. I found myself not being able to stop reading......now I'm so sad! I still remember when this happen, but I was just a kid. Gawd, how awful. Anyone here read "To Sleep with the Angels". It has excellent reviews. Want to read it but afraid of being more depressed
    I found myself weeping at all the lives that were lost. The teaching nuns who perished with the children were heroes in my eyes (as well as the firemen and policemen who were there.) They stayed with the children and comforted them as best as they could. I hope that they led those little souls into Heaven.

    I went to all of their memorials on Find a Grave and left them something. I looked at their little faces for the longest time and wondered what would they had become if they lived.

    Makes you want to hug your kids tight, doesn't it?
    Herman Munster: [reading a poem he wrote as an advertising jingle for his mortuary employer] When your days on earth are over / And you've gone to your reward, / Let us put you 'neath the clover / At a price you can afford.


  44. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alanwench View Post
    “ Come On Out, Son.” Next day Chicago dazedly, sadly, tried to find out what had gone wrong. Known point was that the second-floor fire doors had been left open, making a flue for the flames.

    Actually, there were no fire doors on the second floor. That's why the fire bypassed the first floor (which had fire doors) and burst into the second floor.

    It wouldn't have taken much to assemble a weekend work party to install a fire door at the top of the stairs, but I guess nobody thought of it.
    You say you've lost your mind? Well, if you ever find it again, please look and see if mine is there too!

  45. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by LightoftheMoon View Post
    Does anyone know the names of the asphyxiated little girls being carried out of room 212?

    Also, morbid this may be, are there any pictures of the bodies when they were at the morgue? Just curious... I know they might be graphic. Does anyone have info on particular conditions of the bodies of those burned beyond recognition?

    One of the most haunting lines recounting the fire and its aftermath. One victim's aunt recalled, "When we buried her, she didn't have fingers." Chilling
    Survivor Nancy Scanlon Rodewald was reminiscing about her best friend, Lorraine Nieri, with Nieri's aunt. This is in Remembrances of the Angels:
    "I was saying we used to have contests to see which of us could bite our fingernails down the worst. And her aunt looked at me and said,'When we buried her, she had no fingers.' It was really hard to hear that because you don't want to remember anybody that way. You want to remember them the way they were before."
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  46. #96
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    Jonathan Cain song, "The Day They Became Angels."

    I have this beautiful, haunting song saved as an mp3 file. Would someone please tell me how to post it here?
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  47. #97
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    Lyrics to "The Day THey Became Angels."

    [SIZE=3][SIZE=5]The Day They Became Angels[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=4]Words and music Jonathan Cain[/SIZE]


    The day they became angels

    They left us wondering why

    Young souls joined God’s departed

    Leaving no time for good-bye


    All that’s left are memories…of innocence and childhood dreams

    As survivors we chose to love beyond our pain

    While the whole world stopped to watch our tears

    With faith we heal through the years

    Somehow a cloud of sadness still remains…


    The day they became angels

    Life seemed so unfair

    Left us feeling helpless

    As we offered up our prayers

    Come together we must let them know…what happened fifty years ago

    Will never be forgotten in our hearts

    We have carried on and lived our lives

    The reason why we all survived

    Gives us purpose to know who we are


    Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine

    Et lux perpetua luceat eis

    Requiescant in pace Amen…Requiescant in pace Amen

    The day they became angels[/SIZE]
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

  48. #98
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    With the way the school was built (all the wood and everything) This was definitely a disaster waiting to happen. Seriously. But, after all the research I've done over the years on it. I believe it was arson. They just didn't want the kid that did it to be found out.

    After I found out about this fire. I used to read the message board over on the OLAfire website and people talked about the arson subject. A few said they who'd done it. The boy was 13. But, they wouldn't reveal his name.
    THE PINK PANTHER OF FAD.

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  49. #99
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    The boy was 10 at the time of the fire. Got my info mixed up.

    But, looking at the survivor's list. And, at the room number that the boy that was suspected of setting the fire was in (Room 206) it has two names on there of boys that were in that class. With no info besides their grade number. One of them says that "he was the first kid to leave the classroom" my suspicions tell me that he was the little firestarter.
    THE PINK PANTHER OF FAD.

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

  50. #100
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    If you got the info. from the OLA fire website, the arsonist's name was never mentioned. The website owner steadfastly refuses to name the arsonist, saying that although he's deceased, his relatives might seek legal action since the boy (at the time) was never formally charged with arson and murder. Most of the surviving students agreed on one student as the suspected arsonist and they won't mention his name, either. I thought the same as you did about the first kid out of the room until I e-mailed the website owner asking about the arsonist's identity.

    Quote Originally Posted by toddmanning View Post
    The boy was 10 at the time of the fire. Got my info mixed up.

    But, looking at the survivor's list. And, at the room number that the boy that was suspected of setting the fire was in (Room 206) it has two names on there of boys that were in that class. With no info besides their grade number. One of them says that "he was the first kid to leave the classroom" my suspicions tell me that he was the little firestarter.
    "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's really all about?" Jimmy Buffett

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