IRISH-IN-CHICAGO-L ArchivesArchiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2008-11 > 1227876364
Subject: [IRISH-IN-CHICAGO] Chgo Sun-Times: Our Lady of Angels Fire (article3 of 3)
Date: Fri, 28 Nov 2008 06:46:04 -0600
Excerpts from Remembrances of the Angels, a new book by John Kuenster about
the Our Lady of the Angels fire.
City News Bureau reporter Charles Remberg: "Women ran up to the front steps
of the building, then stood dazed, realizing the smoke and flames kept them
from entering. They made little short darts in different directions, like
trapped animals. They screamed and cried. A charred hand or a little head
with singed hair would be visible under the blankets as they brought out
victims. Women kept trying to get to the stretchers and tear off the
blankets to see if the dead children were theirs. The policemen fought them
Student John Raymond: "I heard the kids screaming -- some of them were
calling for Sister but most of them were calling for their mothers. The air
at the bottom of the floor was getting hot. It started to affect my lungs. I
was ready to pass out. I went to the window, pushed my way through, and dove
Student Larry Sorce: "I remember this intense, intense pressure pushing me
up against the window-sill. It came from everybody behind me trying to get
to that window. I could not see one inch behind me -- it was totally black.
We had 50 or more kids in that room. Twenty-four of them passed away."
Student John Lubke: "I'll go to my grave remembering this: A kid crawled out
onto the ledge and just stepped into space like he was walking down the
sidewalk. I turned my head. I didn't want to see him when he hit the
Student Charlene Campanale Jancik: "I saw adults on the pavement below,
kneeling, praying, crying and screaming. The pavement looked like a war zone
to me, with many of the jumpers covered with blood."
Reporter Bob Wiedrich: "I've seen war, I've seen executions, I've seen every
miserable happening in life, but the school fire was the worst I ever saw.
These innocent little kids, all burned, scrunched over their desks."
Firefighter Albin Anderson: "A few kids were still slumped on their desks,
and that's something I'll never forget, but most of them were just lying in
the water or stacked like cordwood up against the windowsills."
Patricia Rice, R.N.: "Prisoners at Cook County Jail volunteered to donate
blood, along with men and women from every corner of the city. Some called
to offer their skin for grafts."
Student Edward Glanz: "I remember after the fire, going to wakes at
different funeral homes. You'd see 10, 12 kids laid out."
William Edington, whose son Bill died eight months later: "Bill went through
hell. He was burned over 87 percent of his body. And 63 percent was
third-degree. My wife and a friend of ours, Helen Reidy, agreed to give skin
for Bill, who needed lots of grafts. My wife gave 220 square inches, and
Helen Reidy, she gave 240. So Bill got 460 square inches of skin and it
covered only his back. When Bill was in the hospital bed, they had him
facedown. They were working on him, and I saw a puddle of water beneath his
bed. He was crying. In the end Bill went to sleep with the angels."
Student Nancy Scanlon Rodewalk: "My best friend who died, Lorraine, I've
always kept in touch with her family. We were reminiscing about Lorraine,
and I was saying we used to have these 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.' ''
Student Michael Canella, who lost his brother, George: "Before the fire we
had a happy home. After my brother died, it was a house of crying. My mother
stopped crying during the day, but at night she still cried herself to
sleep. You could hear her words, 'Georgie, Georgie.' ''