50 years after school inferno, scars remain

November 29, 2008 3:47:34 PM PST
A public Mass will be held tomorrow to mark the 50th anniversary of a deadly fire that destroyed Chicago's Our Lady of the Angels School on the city's West Side.The fire on December 1, 1958, took the lives of 92 students and three nuns. Some burned to death. Others died of smoke inhalation or were trampled. Still others were killed when they jumped or were pushed or thrown from windows.

The disaster threw the city into mourning. And it left deep emotional scars that remain 50 years later.

A seventh grader at the time jumped from the second floor, broke his leg, but survived.

"I worked my way out to the window sill, and was actually standing on the window sill, and reached back to steady myself against the side of the building. It was a brick building, and the bricks burned my hand. It had gotten that hot inside the building by this point, and I literally almost fell off the window sill, I guess, and hit the ground," survivor Bob Early said.

"The grief was incredible. My mother was a funeral director for 50 years. It was the hardest thing she ever did in her life," said Maureen Sullivan, the daughter of funeral home operators.

A graveside ceremony was held Saturday in Mount Carmel cemetery in Hillside.

The victims' names will be read at the Mass at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Holy Family Church located at 1080 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Chicago.

Holy Family houses a granite shrine that survivors of the fire built in 1999 to remember those who died.

On the Net: www.olafire.com

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


Load Comments