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Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958
OLA Fire Period News Articles
(These stories have been reproduced as accurately as possible from the original news reports, including original errors)
90 Die In School Fire (12/1/58)
74 Hurt, Blast Traps Scores (12/1/58)
Tough Chicago Police Weep At The Tragic, Tiny Bundles (12/1/58)
Tom Feared Sight Of Death's Mask (12/1/58)
Margaret Was a Little Girl Who Didn't Like to Be Sick (12/1/58)
Joe Wasn't Hurt, He Saw Only Horror (12/1/58)
Sobbing Nun Tells of Horror In School Fire (12/1/58)
Parish Families Seek Children (12/1/58)
Man, 74, Stricken Helping Children (12/1/58)
90 PERISH IN CHICAGO SCHOOL FIRE; 3 NUNS ARE VICTIMS; SCORES HURT; PUPILS LEAP OUT WINDOWS IN PANIC (12/1/58)
F.B.I. Ready to Assist Chicago Fire Inquire (12/1/58)
Panic Grips Classrooms; Confusion Increases Toll (12/1/58)
Everybody was Jumping (12/1/58)
List of Identified Dead In Chicago School Fire (12/1/58)
Fire Gong Tolled A Deadly Message (12/1/58)
Frantic Dad Tells Fire Rescue Role (12/1/58)
85 Youngsters Still Hospitalized; Blaze 3rd Worst In 100 Years (12/2/58)
Smoldering School Ruins Like A Cavern Of Death (12/2/58)
87 Children, 3 Nuns Die in School Fire (12/2/58)
Probers of Fire Ask: Why? (12/2/58)
Schoolboy Smoking Cigaret Might Have Touched Off Fire (12/2/58)
One Family's Story (12/2/58)
Throng Just Waits, Looks (12/2/58)
The Morgue (12/2/58)
School Fire Chicago's Worst in 55 Years (12/2/58)
“I'll Remember It to My Dying Day,” Says Fireman (12/2/58)
Chronology Shows Speed of Disaster (12/2/58)
Girl Recalls Burning Backs Of Classmates (12/2/58)
Chicago Presses Search for Clues to Fire At School (12/2/58)
'I Won't Give Up Hope,' Says Father (12/2/58)
Boy Who Jumped Tells of Tragedy (12/2/58)
Pope John Wires Condolences to Bereaved Kin (12/2/58)
Arson Squad to Probe Fire in School Last Year (12/2/58)
“It's Just Too Much,” Laments Archbishop (12/2/58)
Hospitals Work Around Clock to Relieve Injured (12/2/58)
Other School Tragedies (12/2/58)
Moscow Says School Fire No Accident (12/2/58)
Memories of Horror Rack School Janitor (12/2/58)
How Fireman Feels Carrying Out Victims (12/3/58)
Third Worst In Nation (12/3/58)
Priests Try Vainly To Comfort Bereaved Relatives And Parents (12/3/58)
Struggle to Save Fire Survivors Continues (12/3/58)
Gigantic IFs Jolt Probers Digging Into Fire Mystery (12/3/58)
Fire Leads to School Checkups (12/3/58)
Rites Held for Nuns Killed in School Fire (12/4/58)
10,000 Mourners at Funeral Of Three Nuns Killed in Fire (12/4/58)
Mass Offered for 28 Small Victims of Fire (12/5/58)
Fire Victim's Souls Commended to God (12/5/58)
91st Chicago Victim Of School Fire Dies (12/6/58)
500 Children Face Questioning In School Fire (12/6/58)
Bereaved Families Mourn in Chicago (12/7/58)
9-Year-Old Boy Dies, Raises Chicago School Fire Toll to 92 (12/8/58)
Boy Becomes 92d Victim of Chicago Fire (12/8/58)
School Fire Horror Probed (12/11/58)
Chicago School Afire Long Before 1st Alarm (12/11/58)
Terror, Torment Related by School Fire Victims (12/13/58)
Girl Fire Victim, 9, Wonders Why Cards Have Stopped Coming (12/14/58)
Fire. Thirty-Eight O Eight Iowa...The Alarm Was Desperate, the Tragedy Incredible! (12/15/58)
Nightmare in the News (12/15/58)
Disasters - The Chicago School Fire (12/15/58)
How Safe Are The Schools (12/15/58)
Fire Hazards Found At 2 City Schools
Two Schools To Be Closed As Fire Risks
Texas School Tragedy Of 294 Dead Recalled
$50,000? So What?
Erect Fireproof School Building (11/30/59)
City Cleared As Defendant In School Fire (7/19/60)
New School Open (9/60)
Considered prime suspect in Chicago blaze (1/16/1962)
Boy Admits Fire Fatal To 95 (1/16/62)
Judge Rips Lie Tester On Boy's Story Of Fire (1/16/1966)
Cicero Won't Let Police Talk to Youth (1/16/1962)
Lad Cleared in School Fire (3/13/62)
Memories stay forever - Our Lady of Angels fire survivor (11/83)
'Born fireman' wanted to be part of the action (6/1/2003)
“It's Just Too Much,” Laments Archbishop
By Mervin Bloc.
CHICAGO - Dec. 2, 1958 - Three bodies, grotesquely contorted, lay sid by side in the X-ray room.
A nurse pulled back a blanket, revealing the blood encrusted head of a boy.
Msgr. James Hardiman, the archbishop's secretary, gasped.
In a moment he recovered his composure and said:
“They're just kids poor little kids.”
The archbishop himself, Albert Gregory Meyer, looked as though he wanted to cry.
40-MINUTE TOUR
He make the sign of the cross, uttered a silent prayer and quietly left the room.
“It's just too much,” he remarked as he completed a 40-minute tour of St. Anne's Hospital.
The archbishop had been informed of the disaster while praying is his residence, 1555 State pkwy. Msgr. Hardiman, who brought the news, summoned the archbishop's chauffeur and the three went to the hospital.
When they set out shortly after 4 p.m., the radio in their car told of 20 dead. By the time they pulled up at St. Anne's 35 minutes later, the radio said 40 were dead.
ASKS FOR CHILDEN
Sister Almunda, administrator of the hospital, recognized the archbishop as he entered the lobby. He asked.
“Where are the children?”.
She led him into the auditorium, which had been converted into a makeshift ward.
The archbishop want from bed to bed, cart to cart, making the sign of the cross and intoning a prayer over each survivor.
“May the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost descend upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.”
ALL IS SWIFT
The nurses scurrying back and forth with supplies were too busy to notice him. Those who did gave no sign.
Obviously disturbed by the moaning, the crying and the injuries, the archbishop became particularly upset as he viewed one badly burned child. With a catch in his throat, he exclaimed.
“That's awful.”
After the archbishop had blessed the 14 children in the huge room, Sister Almunda led him to an elevator.
As soon as the elevator door slid open on the sixth floor, the passengers were unnerved by the most piteous screams.
Besides outbursts due to pain, many victims were screaming for their mothers.
The archbishop strode from room to room, blessing the greviously hurt, encouraging the staff.
In the corridor, doctors and nurses hurried past, too preoccupied even to nod to him.
When a photographer asked the archbishop to linger a few seconds over one motionless form, the archbishop replied:\” No, we're just in the way.”
CLUTCHES CRUCIFIX
A hideously burned boy, clutching a crucifix, was wheeled into an empty room. The archbishop followed him, administering his blessing as attendants adjusted intravenous feedings.
Then the archbishop walked into the sugery section.
While doctors cleaned wounds, set fractures and sewed incisions, the tall priest tiptoed into six of the operating rooms.
After blessing the patients there, he walked down to the third floor to visit two nuns injured in the fire.
One, her face blackened, arms wrapped in bandages, opened her eyes and whispered.
“I'm fine.”
TOO LATE
As he emerged from the room, two nurses and a nun were running down the hall pushing a large green tank of oxygen on a dolly.
From there he went down to several suites adjoining the emergency room.
Father Richard Bermingham, hospital chaplain, who preceded the archbishop down the passageway, opened a door and announced”.
“They're all dead in here.”
VISITS FIRE SITE
The archbishop waled in. a fireman shifting the bodies dropped to his knees as he entered.
The archbishop spent several minutes there, then went to the site of the fire.
The archbishop's driver, Vince McAleer, a policeman on leave, was overwhelmed by the suffering. However, McAleer spoke not of his own feelings but of the archbishop's when he said:
“He's very, very upset.”