Flutterby™! : In Memoriam

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In Memoriam

2008-12-01 13:44:40.891688+00 by petronius 2 comments

50 years ago today, when I was in third grade, my grammer school caught fire. The result was the death of 92 children, 3 teaching nuns, and the devastation of an entire community. There were no grief counselors back in 1958, and a lot of us never dealt with the terrible, terrible things we saw that day. I attended a 50th anniversary memorial yesterday that filled one of the largest churches in Chicago. When the names of the dead were read family members came forward to light a candle, and I noted that there were a very few parents, now in their 80s, more brothers and sisters in their 50s (like myself), and a number of younger nieces and nephews standing in for their departed family members. Even in our fractured age there is a continuity in suffering, a sad but necessary community of grief and comfort. No matter how modern or advanced we fancy ourselves, these older rituals still work.

PS: I mentioned this event some time ago in a post about a related event. I spoke recently with the protagonist's co-author and found that the guy served his time and after apologizing, dropped off the map.

[ related topics: Children and growing up Sociology Community ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-12-01 15:28:37.512673+00 by: Dan Lyke

When you mentioned this the last time I went and read a whole bunch of the online stuff about it, thinking that it felt like the last disaster of a bygone era, in the mold of the Triangle Factory Fire, but then that last post was already three years after the Rhode Island "Great White" nightclub fire.

My grandfather on my mother's side was a fireman, and ambulance (and probably other things) inspector for the New York State Department of Health, and trainer for the Red Cross, and we were constantly inundated with "know where your exits are", and how you could tell how old a building was by the design of its fire escapes. It's habit that when I fly I count the rows to the exits, and then quiz myself when I get off the plane to see if I remember. However, these disasters are infrequent enough that unless you've got personal experience it's hard put them in our consciuosness as a real risk, relative to the daily issues of things like automobile travel and saturated fats.

However, speaking of this, one of the things I should move up on my list is returning one of our bedroom windows to the size that it was originally built with. It's south-facing, so I understand why they replaced it with something small, but I want my second exit something I can step through, not wriggle through.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-12-01 16:40:47.826522+00 by: petronius

Most fire hazards are based on somebody taking a shortcut. At OLA, they figured they didn't need expensive fireproof doors on the stairwells. A 10 minute delay in the spread of the fire would have saved most everybody. The Great White fire, came when somebody used cheap "egg-crate" foam for sound absorber instead of fire-resistant acoustical materials.