This post is mainly meant for english-speaking readers.
- Faces are etched in misery
- Picture Story. Turn to the back page for a full page of pictures of the school fire. Other fire pictures on pages 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7.
Angels school built in 1910, records show
The Our Lady of the Angels School building, which was swept by fire Monday, was built at 909 Avers av. in 1910, city building department records show. A second smaller building was constructed within the last five years, and the school had an enrollment of 1,635 at the beginning of this school year.
About 1,200 of the pupils attended classes in the building struck by the fire.
29 faculty members
The faculty included nine lay teachers, all women, and 20 nuns of the Sisters of Charity, Blesses Virgin Mary, order.
The building had been remodeled in 1951, School records of the Chicabo Roman Catholic archdiocese indicate that the kindergarten, which had 120 pupils, was on a double shift.
Once housed church
When the burned building was erected, it housed the parish church on the first floor and the classrooms were on the second. After the present church was built in 1939, the first floor of the original building was converted to classrooms.
Thruout its history, the school has had only a kindergarten and eight elementary grades. In keeping with architecture of the period in which it was built, the building’s classrooms were large with high ceilings and extensive woor trim.
Copter hovers over school in W-G-N report
An on the scene report of the fire at Our Lady of the Angels school, 3808 Iowa st., came directly from the W-G-N Traffic Copter flying over the building at 4 p.m.
The report was broadcast on W-G-N by Leonard Baldy of the traffic division of the Chicago police department.
Baldy urgen motorists to stay out of the area so as not to impede fire fighting operations, reported on congested streets in the area, and recommended alternate routes.
The grim story of the fire, the heroic rescue efforts, and the life saving measures by doctors and nurses in the hospitals, as exclusive filmed by W-G-N-TV, will be retelecast at 8:45 a.m. and 11:55 a.m. Tuesday on channel 9. The pictures were first shown at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday.
Horror Scene told by those who survived
• Many jumped as fire pushed closer
By Harry Adams
Drama pached stories of being trapped in the burning of Our Lady of Angels school and their escapes and rescues were told by frenzied children in hospitals where they were taken for treatment and as they milled around the doomed building.
Linda Barleto, 12, of 743 N. Drake av., told of being pushed out of a window of a second floor classroom.
Firemen use ladders
“Our backs were burning,” she said. “Then someone pushed me out of a window.”
Linda suffered burns and bruises, but her condition was reported good. Andrea Gagliareo, 12, her cousin and classmate told of opening a window in the classroom and screaming for help.
“Some of the boys jumped out of the window,” she said. “When we looked down we saw the lying still on the ground. It was like a miracle when we saw the firemen with their ladders.”
Frances Panno, 10, of 3235 Division st., told of her rescue by firemen as she sat in Franklin Boulevard hospital, sipping orange juice.
One of first to escape
The little girl, her face and hands burned and her clothing smudged and charred, said she was one of the first of her 5th grade class to reach one of the windows of her classroom.
“As other pupils pushed and screamed behind me,” she said, “firemen on ladders suddenly appeared at the window and took me down the ladder to the ground.”
The stories of the children were interpersed with one told by Leroy Hewlett, 31, who lives diagonally across from the school at 854 N. Avers av.
Gate of fence locked
He said five minutes before the children were to be released from school he heard children screaming. He said he ran to the street as the first piece of fire department equipment arrived. Residents assisted firemen in lifting ladders over a wooden fence, the gate of wich was locked.
“Kids were hanging from windows, jumping of falling in groups of three or four at a time,” he said. “Smoke and flames poured from the windows. A little girl stood at the window of a ledge on the second floor, screaming for help.”
Tell of smelling smoke
Mary Brock, 10, a 5th grade pupil on the second floor, said she first learned of the fire when someone shouted, “I smell smoke.”
“When the room door was opened, a gust of smoke blew in,” she said. “Sister Mary Clara Theresa said, “Get out of the window and get on the ledge and stay there.” I got out of the window and stood on the ledge, but lots of others jumped.”
After being rescued by firemen, Mary ran home seeking two brothers, Gerald, 9, and Dennis, 7. They were already home. Her mother, Ann, took her to the hospital for treatment of burns on her face.
Mary Lattanzio, 12, of 3614 Chicago av., a 7th grader, said she first heard children screaming in the adjoining 8th grade room.
Smoke began to pour into the 7th grade room, and children became hysterical, jamming the door, she related. “One boy collapsed from inhaling smoke. Another was hanging out the window, calling for help.”
Told to go home
Joseph Brocato, 11, of 851 N. Springfield av., a 6th grade pupil brought to St. Elizabeth’s hospital by his father. Anthony, said he and a classmate were emptying waste paper baskets from his classroom in the boiler room when he first baceme aware of the fire.
“Suddenly,” he said, “I saw the janitor running from the boiler room. The janitor shouted, “Call the fire department.” My classmates and I ran upstairs and we were told by the nuns to go into the church. A lot of children were in the church. We then were told to go home.”
Kathy Harte, 11, of 928 N. Springfield, a 6th grader and daughter of Ed harte, a detective at East Chicago avenue police station, said her teacher was giving out an assignment when one of the girls saw smoke coming out of a window.
Line up for fire drill
“Miss Rossi (the teacher) lined us up in fire drill line, and we began to file out into the hall,” Kathy said. “The black smoke kept coming in. It got in my mouth, and I couldn’t breathe until I got to the window.
“Then I felt someone pushing me, and they pushed me all the way down the stairs. I don’t know who it was, but I think it was some 8th grader, one of the bigger kids.”
Sylvia Tesauro, 13, of 808 N. Sacramento av., an 8th grader, told her story from a room in Walther Memorial hospital, where she was confined with three other pupils.
“Two girls entered our classroom and said the hall was filled with smoke,” she related. “Sister tried to lead the class downstairs.
“We were forced back by thick smoke and had to go to the windows to get air. Many of the pupils became histerical and were forced to remain until firemen raised ladders.
“As I came down a ladder other pupils were jumping and falling from windows all about me. There was blood on the ground and children were lying all around as I teached the ground.”
George Pomilia, 10, of 856 N. Trumbull av., said he was forced by smoke to the second floor ledge, dangled from the lodge by his finger tips, and then jumped to the ground, suffering a fractured hip.
Heard futile screams
“I heard kids screaming, ‘Fire, fire, get us out of here,'” Arthur Barsella, 11, of 823 N. Avers av., a 6th grader on the second floor related. “Sister Mary Urbanita, who was writing homework on the blackboard, started leading children out of the room. Some of the pupils in the room started running.
“Kids were hanging out the windows screaming, ‘Get us out of here.’ Some were jumping into firemen’s arms and others onto the pavement.”
Mrs. Peter Tarenski, a resident at 900 N. Avers av., across the street from the school, said she saw a teacher leaning out a second floor window shouting, “Everything is on fire up here.”
“Other children were hanging out of the windows and screaming and crying,” Mrs. Tarenski said.
“This will be a day I will never forget,” said Joseph Graziano, 12, of 932 N. Monticello av., a 7th grader. “We heard somebody scream thaat the roof was on fire. We couldn’t see anything. Kids fell on the floor screaming.”
Joseph DeCristofano, 10, of 945 N. Monticello, said his 5th grade class was doing arithmetic when “our teacher opened the door and black smoke poured in.”
“Everybody was in panic,” James related. “Some kids fell down on the stairs. One jumped out of the window. I guess the furnace blew up.”
Nun’s heroism lauded by Archbishop Meyer
“My heart goes out in sympathy to all the bereaved families who lost their children in this fire, as well as to those who have beloved ones among the injured,” said Archbishop Albert Meyer in a statement issued Monday night after the tragic fire at Our Lady of the Angles school.
“Our only recourse is to turn to God in the spirit of faith and of submission to His holy will,” the statement added.
The archbishop extended his sympathy to Msgr. Joseph F. Cussen, pastor of the church, other priests there, and to the nuns, who, he said, “labored heroically thruout the course of the tragedy.”
Will offer masses
He expressed thanks to the fire and police departments. He said he was offering his masses for all the dead “and for the intentions of the living, praying God to grant us the strength and the resignation that come only from Him.”
“We ask our Blessed Savior and Our Lady of Sorrows to grant us this grace, begging then to look down with pity upon us in our hour of great and indescribable sorrow, as we strive with their help to unite ourselves to their suffering on Calvary,” he said.
In some Catholic churches Monday night, bells were tolled in mourning for the fire victims.
Rosary service held
Some parishes planned memorial masses in the near future. In Holy Family church, 1080 Roosevelt rd., a rosary service for the dead children was held Monday night. At 11 a.m. Tuesday, the church will hold a memorial mass.
Another parish, St. Boniface, 921 N. Noble st., will have a memorial mass at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
A sorrowing group of worshippers assembled in the main inquest room of the county morgue Monday night to recite the rosary. They were parents and relatives of the school fire victims and most of them were red eyed from weeping.
Priest gives blessing
There was not enough room for kneeling so most stood as the Rev. Alfred Abramowicz of the chancery office led the prayers.
As he reached the last decade of the rosary, Father Abramowicz said: “As we say this last decade, let us ask our Blessed Virgin Mary for holy resignation, realizing that she, too, lost her only son on the cross.”
When we finished, he raised a smoll wooden crucifix and gave his blessing to all in the room. Nurses, priests, and policemen on duty joined the prayers.
At 2:42 p.m. firemen begin a grim battle
- Equipment on scene in few minutes
The first report on the fire at Our Lady of Angels school was telephoned to the fire department at 2:42 p.m. Monday, and nearby equipment was immediately dispatched.
Two minutes later, at 2:44 p.m., after receiving several other telephone calls, the fire alarm office pulled a box on the fire, which sent four engines, two trucks, one quad, two battalion chiefs, a division marshal, and a division patrol to the scene at 909 N. Avers av.
At 2:47 p.m., the battalion chief of the 18th district pulled at 2:11 alarm, calling in additional equipment.
5-11 alarm sounded
At 2:55 p.m. a 5-11 alarm was sounded, bringing in 24 engines, seven trucks, five squads, nine ambulances, two light wagons, another division marshal, four pumpers, and two towers. It also called Fire Commissioner Rovert Quinn to the fire.
The 5-11 alarm, the highest alarm which can be sounded outside of a special alarm, affected indirectly virtually every piece of fire fighting equipment in the city. equipment from outlying barns moved in to take over fire stations whose equipment had been sent to the fire.
Police send squadrois
At 2:53 p.m., the police department dispatched 27 squadrols, which can double as amblances, 23 three-wheel motorcycles, and 23 squad cars, together with approximately 100 policemen, to handle traffic.
Commisioner Quinn declared the fire officially out at 4:19 p.m. altho it had been brought under control some time before.
First to arrive
Sixteen firemen under command of Chief Miles Devine of the 18th battalion were the first to arrive in response to the still alarm, with engine 85, truck 35, and squad 6.
Children had marched out of the lower floor and were lined up on Avers avenue and Iowa street, but children were crowding the windows on the second floor.
Eight ladders from struck 35 were run up, and two life nets were placed, one manned by Willad Martens and Walter Romanczak of truck 35 at the northeast corner of the building.
Some miss net
The children were so jammed together in the windows that is was imposible for them to jump, one at a time. They jumped two or three at a time. Sometimes two would hit the life net at once. Others missed the net altogether and struck the ground.
The firemen agreed that the children were trapped on the second floor by what is known technically as a “hot box” in the second floor hallway, an accumulation of smoke, heat, and flame caused when classroom doors and windows were opened, supplying a forced draft for the fire.
Firemen themselves were unable to penetrate the heat in the second floor hall.
Martens and Romanczak estimated that between 20 and 25 children leaped into their net, and an equal number into a net held by members of squad 6.
Nuns, parents, passers-by save children
- Fathers rescues girl and 12 others
Nuns, parents, and passers by were heroes and heroines Monday in the disastrous fire in Our Lady of the Angels school. They were periled, in some cases repeatedly, as they ran into the flaming and smoke filled building in a furious struggle to rescue trapped children.
Sam Tortorice, 42, of 908 N. Hamlin a., run into the blazing school, fearful for the safety of his daughters, rose, 13, and Judy, 11. Inside, he assisted in the rescue of Rose and a dozen or more of her trapped classmates.
Returning home from shopping, Tortorice learned of the fire and rushed to the school. Fighting his way thru thick, black smoke. Tortorice reached Rose’s classroom in the sothwest end of the building.
Girls struggle for air
He found a group of girls, including Rose, pressed against a window, struggling for air. The girls were barred from leaving thru the door by dense smoke.
The girls were screaming. “Save me, save me.”Stradling an open window, Tortorice lowered the girls, one by one, thru the window 5 feet down to a ledge above a school entrance. There, the girls were grabbed by the Rev. Joseph Ognibene, a parish priest, and another man, whose identity was not learned, from an adjacent window on the stairway and pulled to safety.
Tortorice lowered six of the girls to the ledge before he was able to reach Rose and rescue her. Meanwhile, firemen raised a ladder to Tortorice, which he placed against the window from the ledge and directed other or Rose’s classmates down the ladder. Tortorice learned later that his younger daughter had reached safety.
Rescues 12; son killed
Max Stachura 0f 918 N. Hamlin av. told of seeing his son, Mark Allen, 9, trapped in the burning building. Stachura later identified the body in the county morgue.
Stachura said he ran to the school after hearing of the fire and saw his son leaning out of a second floor window. He said he tried to enter but was driven back by smoke and flames. He said he pleaded for his son to jump, but Mark wouldn’t.
Stachure caught other children who jumped before his son disappeared.
Makes repeated trips
There was Conrad Rossi, of 849 N. Avers av., who made five or six trips into the building of doom, leading 35 to 45 children to safety until smoke and flames made it impossible for him to return again.
His rescue missions started when, walking past the school, he saw youngsters running out into the cold coatless and heard a priest shout, “There’s children in there; it’s on fire!”
Rossi ran repeatedly into the building until smoke got so thick that he got sick and groggy. On his last trip into a smoke filled room, he said he saw a little boy starting to jump from a window.
Slips from Grasp
“I grabbed the child’s clothes, but he just slipped out of my fingers,” he said, “As I turned from the window, I tripped over another little child, unconscious. I picked up the child and saw a handful of other kids screaming and crying.”
He ordered the children to hold hands, then taking the hand of one at the end of the line, he broght them to safety.
“When I got outside it was a terrible sight,” Rossi said. “Kids were jumping out of windows wildly, one on top of the other.”
A nun, who declined to identify herself, made three trips into the burning building, each time leading out at least six pupils.
“Felt untold stregth”
“I felt untold strenght,” she said in St. Anne’s hospital where she was being treated.
The nun told of assembling 30 to 40 pupils of the 6th and 7th grades in a smoke filled hallway on the second floor and of instructing the to crawl toward safety along the floor. She said she rolled some of the pupils down stairs to get them out quickly.
An unexplainable impulse caused Casimir Janik, 38, of 6314 S. Wood st., to alter his route home from his job as a milkman. It led him fast the school before firemen arrived. He parked nearby and ran several times into the smoke filled building, carrying the burned children to safety.
Finds girl in shock
“I found one girl, her shoes missing , hanging on to a banister, seemingly in a state of shock,” he said. “I yanked her loose, took her to church, and placed her on a pew. Twice, I carried two girls out, one under each arm.”
Daniel Grimaldi, 32, of 852 N. Hamlin av., went up a ladder to rescue a girl he believed might be his own daughter. It wasn’t, but he carried the girl down from the second floor.
While coming down the ladder, Grimaldi said, “I saw another girl leap out. She brushed right past my face.”
Grimaldi said he learned later that his two children, Mary, 8, a 3d grader, and Frank, 11, a 5 th grader, escaped uninjured.
Lt. Charles Kamin, in charge of truck 35, mounted to the top of a ladder against a second floor window on the northeast corner of the building.
He found the children so closely jammed in the window that he was able to get one a a time only by shaving the others back, grabbing one child by his belt, swinging him out of the window and behind him to the ladder.
Kamin said he rescued eighty or 10 in this manner and that when he turned back, the window contained only flames, altho children had been there a moment before.
Student nurse volunteers on job at morgue
Coroner Walter McCarron praised the work of 40 student nurses from hospitals affiliated with the County hospital, who devoted their services after regular duty hours, at the morgue, distributing sandwiches and coffee and caring for grief stricken parents. The nurses, studying at County hospital, are from the Loyola university nursing school, Illinois Masonic hospital, St. Anthony’s hospital, Rockford; Lakeview hospital, Danville; and Swedish Covenant hospital.
Party halted to collect $200 in fire relief
A group of production men in the candy industry halted their scheduled Christmas party Monday to take up a $200 collection for Our Lady of the Angels school and church.
“We hope this will get something started,” said Walter Mayer, secretary of the Chicago Candy Production club. “We want to help.”
Out-of-State School to treat him
A 13 year old boy who admitted setting the Our Lady of the Angels school fire, but later recanted the confession, was taken from his parents’ custody yesterday for placement in a psychriatist institution.
Judge Alfred J Cilella of Family court ordered that the boy be held in the Audy [Juvenile] home until he is accepted in an out of state private school where he can be given psychotherapy. Cost of the treatment will be shared by the parents and the county.
Cleared in school fire
Judge Cilella found the boy guilty a week ago of having set a series of apartment house fires in Cicero, the suburb to which the boy moved after having attended the Our Lady of the Angels school.
The court, however, ruled that the boy’s confession in the school fire bore little resemblance to the actual facts and therefore cleared him of having set the blaze which took the lives of 92 pupils and three nuns in 1958.
“After a careful consideration of all the factors, and especially the report of my probation officer and the psychiatrist report of my department of psychiatric services. I find this child is an emotionally disturbed boy who is in need of psychotherapy,” Judge Cilella said.
“It is my opinion that this boys should be placed in a school that will afford him these opportunities of therapy. Unfortunately, we do not have any public facilities affording this type of care. Private facilities are very limited within the state.”
Judge Cilella reported that the court had been able to locate a school to meet the boy’s particular needs outside of Illinois, that the school had tentatively agreed to accept the boy, but needed time to process the application. The court refused to identify the school by name. Cilella said that if the school eventually decides not to take the child, efforts will be made to find another institution of the same type.
“This case illustrates once again that the court does not always have the resources necessary to discharge its responsabilities effectively,” Cilella noted.
The boy’s parents were present in court when Judge Cilella read his order from the bench. They showed no emotion when the judge noted that he did not believe the boy could remain wit his parents and receive proper treatment.
Questioned by Reid
The boy first confessed setting the school fire Jan, 12 during a questioning session with John E. Reid, a polygraph expert at 600 S. Michigan av. His parents had taken him to Reid in an affort to clear him of the Cicero fires thru a lie detector test.
During hearings before Judge Cilella, the boy recanted his confession. He also denied setting the series of suburban fires. The boy was a 5th grader in the school the day of the fire, Dec. 1, 1958.
Thursday, August 6, 1964.
New York Times
Alfred Cilella, 54, a judge in Chicago
Special to The New York Times AUG. 6, 1964
CHICAGO, Aug. 5 – Circuit Judge Alfred J. Cilella died in Hinsdale Sanitarium yesterday shortly after having collapsed while playing golf at the Butterfield Country Club near suburban Lombard. He was 54 years old.
Judge Cilella received his law degree from Northwestern University. A star baseball player, he was given a tryout with the New York Giants while still in college. However, he chose a career in law and politics rather than sports.
After being admitted to the fear, he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives and served one term, in 1943‐44. In 1951 he was elected a Chicago alderman from the 36th Ward, of which he had been Democratic committeeman.
As a member of the City Council, Mr. Cilella led the successful fight for fluoridation of Chicago’s water supply. He served in the City Council until he was elected to the circuit bench in 1958.
Judge Cilella was a member of the executive board of the Chicago Council of the Boy Scouts of America from 1955 to 1961. He was made chairman of the Chicago Youth Commission in 1954. In 1962 he was made a knight officer in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
Surviving are his widow, the former Mabel Lowe; a son, Alfred Jr., and a daughter, Linda Mary.
Chicago Daily Tribune
Cops: Author an arsonist
- ‘Great Chicago Fires’ writer is charged with starting one.
- Robert Chiappetta. The immaculate deception.
- David Cowan & John Kuenster. To sleep with the angels.