Carol Gazzola was my sister and the day of the school fire was the saddest day in my life. I was 14 years older than Carol, and she was my little girl. My father died 3 years before she did, so it was my mother who had to face this terrible tragery. My sister didn't want to go to school that day, but my mother said if your not sick you will have to go. And my mom had to live with that. But I believe all those children were choosen from God and they are all angels. She was a good girl and we loved her so very much. It still hurts just like the day it happened. I believe all the children are looking down on us and praying for us. My mom has died also, so now they are a family again in heaven. Some day I will be with them, this I believe. I am a child of God.
-- (Dolores Labuda, Sister)
I remember the Saturday before Carol died, she took the bus from the North Side and came to see me on the South Side. She played with my two girls for awhile. Then she said "I have to go see mom." I wanted her to wait and we would take her home when my husband came home. But she had to go, and that was the last time I saw her. we couldn't find her for 47 hours. Those were the worst hours of my life. Even though it has been over 45 years, it seemed it just happened. I remember everything that happen that day. I love her with all my heart. She is my little angel. Love, sister Dolores.
-- (Dolores Labuda, Sister)
Carol Ann was a dear friend. She lived down the block and across the street from us on Christiana off of Chicago Avenue. I knew Carol from the time she was seven years old. I was nine when I moved into the neighborhood. She was such a sweet girl, sometimes shy, and always ready to smile and laugh. We children were horrified at Carol's death. My friends, Marie Di Cola, Annette Greco, and me, Loretta Adornetto, never got over the loss.
This summer my nephew came in from Edmonton Alberta Canada. Carol babysat with him sometimes when I couldn't. He wanted to visit her grave and we went to Queen of Heaven Cemetery and paid a visit. We both felt such a heavy sad feeling at the gravesite. I have always prayed for Carol and the other children and nuns who parished. The old neighborhood was never the same after the fire, and we all drifted away and unfortunately apart. As the anniversary draws near again, it brings back all the memories of the fun we had together as friends, and the terrible memories of the fire, and the extreme loss we still feel. I know Carol is with God and that she has a wonderful place because she was a truly wonderful girl.
Rest in peace, my friend.
-- (Loretta L. Alexander, Friend)
I was only 10 years old when this tragic fire happened. I remember walking home from Lafayette school hearing and seeing all of the fire trucks going by. When I got home, my grandma told me what was going on. My grandparents and my mom were very upset and frightened. You see, my mom had very young cousins in that school. It was a very sad day for all of us even though three of her four cousins survived.
Before the fire, I remember going to Carol Ann's house with my mom to visit with her and my mom's Aunt Mary. Carol Ann was so nice to me, she let me play with her dolls and we had fun and laughed a lot. I was looking forward to seeing Carol Ann and her family at my grandma's house on Christmas. I never did see her again but I have thought about her often through the years and especially every December 1st. I know she is resting peacefully in heaven with her mom and dad and does not have to live with the painful memory of that tragic December afternoon. With love, Joanne (Surlak) Williams, 2nd cousin to Carol Ann.
-- (Joanne Williams, Cousin)
Carol Anne Gazzola was my first cousin. She was a very serious and likeable person who endured the tragedy of losing her father, my uncle, Tom. He lingered with heart disease. I remember visiting Carol, my aunt Mary, and also visiting with Deloris, Carol's older sister. My father, Harry Gazzola, was Tom's brother. My father would drive us (my brother Dan, myself and my mother) to visit on Sunday afternoons. I sure wish Carol was still with us, but I know that she is an angel in heaven with Jesus, Mary, and all the other Saints. Today is the 55th anniversary of this horrifically tragic event in history.
-- (Dianne Gazzola, Cousin)
My name is John Reed -- Carol was 10 days younger than me, her mother's sister was my aunt Rose Maturo. I remember on the day of the fire, myself, cousin Rosemary Maturo and my sister Pat were in the hall of the apartment building at 2037 W. Superior that was shared with my mother's family. We were reading a magazine that had the top songs of the month. It was about 3:30 in the afternoon and Rosemary said, "I heard someone say there was a fire at OLA. I hope my cousin Carol is ok." We would visit their house on Christiana Ave and play. Carol was a nice girl. I am 70 years old now [Nov 2015] but I remember that day like it was yesterday. I think of her every year in December and say a prayer.
-- (John Reed, Relative by Marriage)