Chicago, IL Our Lady of the Angels School Fire, Dec 1958 - Boy Describes Scene
Boy Describes Scene Inside Burning School
(Editors Note -- TOMMY RAYMOND, 12, a seventh grader, was trapped for 20 minutes in his second floor classroom at Our Lady of the Angels School. Here is his story.)
By TOMMY RAYMOND
As Told To UPI
CHICAGO (UPI) - I hesitated on the window sill thinking about jumping - and how I would look dead - when firemen shouted to me to wait and they'd save me.
Most of my other classmates had got out and I was the last one. But when I walked into the hall the smoke was so thick I ran back into the room. I ran to a window in the room and threw some books out through the glass to break the window. It's funny, but I remember the books - my reader and some text books.
After the window broke I got on the sill and began thinking about jumping. That's when the firemen down below started shouting at me not to jump, but they'd come and get me. So I got back off the sill.
Now that I think back to when it started, I remember we were having a singing lesson. We didn't know anything about the fire until all of a sudden we heard a lot of screams. We couldn't make out what the screams were for a moment, then we knew it was the eighth graders yelling, "Fire, fire, fire."
We started leaving the room like we had practiced in fire drills. You know we had two or three fire drills already this winter because this is an old school and somebody always figured it was going to burn down some day.
For a while I was all by myself in the room and then some girls came running in. They were from another room. I yelled at them to lie down on the floor, because that's what I remember from fire drills to do when there's a lot of smoke.
The girls said kids from other rooms were hanging on one another's belts to form a line to get to the stairs because the smoke had made it as dark as night on the second floor. A man came running through the door and we could see flames on the other side of the building. The man grabbed a few girls and led them back out with him.
But I stayed by the window, and I was scared. Then the firemen came up and led me down the ladder.
I'm sorry about all the others.
The Coshocton Tribune Ohio 1958-12-02