Linda is my sister. I was 4 years old the day of the fire (I turned 5 on December 4, 1958. My mother told me Linda was helping to plan a party for me -- instead, she was buried on my 5th birthday. This event changed our family life forever. I have no conscious memory of the day, I think I blocked it out. All I know of that day is what I heard from my family and what I've read. My brother Jerry was also in the fire but he got out. He never got over the horror of that day.
My mother still cries when she thinks about that terrible day, even 47 years later. I often wonder how different my family would have been, if not for this tragedy. I wish my sister didn't die! I wish my brother didn't have to experience such a tragedy. December 1, 1958 changed our family, so many families, forever.
-- (Patricia Malinski-Zimmerman, Sister)
I don't think a day goes by that I don't think of the sweet, slightly shy girl who was my best friend. I transferred to Our Lady of the Angels so that we could be together. But we lost our house and had to move in October of that year. I was heartbroken that I was losing my best friend. The night before the fire, Linda was awakened by nightmares. She told her Mom that she couldn't breathe (Linda was not burned, she died of smoke inhalation) and that she heard children screaming. Her Mom thought she felt feverish, and decided to keep her home the next day. She stayed home in the morning, but insisted she wanted to go in the afternoon. She wanted to look extra nice, she told her Mom, and even asked to borrow one of her Mom's necklaces to wear, which she did. The moment we heard on the radio about the school, I started calling her house, but no answer. I think I knew right then, that I'd lost my best friend. Linda was a TRULY sweet person. She didn't have a mean bone in her body. I'm so heartbroken that her family lost a person who would have brought them such happy memories. I don't think a day goes by that I don't think of my best friend and the happy times we had, and how many more we could have had. I try to get by by thinking "I was lucky to have known her at all."
-- (Linda Nolan, Friend)