Home
Business-Wise
Kate's Collage
"Vinny Da Vendor"
"Benny Da Buyer"
Kizer & Bender
Memory, Paper & Stamps
Category Reports
Designing Perspectives
Scene & Heard


Creative Leisure News
306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com


 


 

Insights on business -- and life.

Printer Version

A Personal View of School Tragedies

The Newtown Massacre brought back memories.

by Mike Hartnett (January 7, 2013)

On a cold December day in 1958, I was in the seventh grade, living on the south side of Chicago, when a west-side grammar school, Our Lady of Angels, caught fire. My dad was a reporter for Chicago bureau of the Associated Press and was sent to cover the fire.

He arrived in time to see little kids hanging by their fingertips on the window sills, and then finally giving way, and falling to the ground.

By the time the fire was extinguished, 92 children, most 9 or 10 years old, and three nuns were dead.

Dad came home and, without speaking, went straight to the liquor cabinet and got drunk.

That was very unlike him. He would often have a drink or two before dinner or after but was always telling stories about the news of the day Chicago politics, sports, or whatever. Not this time, though.

Two or three days later, he covered the mass funeral of 20-30 children. Again, he came home without a word, and got drunk.

It wasn't until decades later that I read To Sleep with the Angels, the story of the fire, that I began to understand the horror my dad had seen. He died about 30 years later; I'm sure those memories never left him.

Think of what those Newtown first-responders saw when they broke into that first-grade classroom.

Months later we moved to the neighborhood immediately west of the area served by Our Lady of Angels. I was the new kid in the school, in eighth grade a very awkward time for me.

Not just for me. Our Lady of Angels was destroyed, so the survivors were sent to other nearby schools, including mine, Our Lady Help of Christians. In my class was an "Angel," Joann McDonald, who had finally jumped from her classroom and broke her leg. She was a big, gawky girl, by eighth-grade standards, but a real nice kid, and going through the same "new kid in school" trauma that I was going through.

(God bless women's athletics; today a big gawky girl might have an outlet basketball or volleyball. But there was nothing like that for Joann.)

She wouldn't have made any team, regardless, because she had operations over the year, returning to class each time with a heavy plaster cast on her leg.

In Joann's own words: "Everybody was screaming. Two men brought ladders from the garage and put them up to the second floor. One girl hung from the ledge and got her feet on the ladder, but it was too far away for the rest of us. Then the men put the ladders together and one girl started to climb down, but the ladder fell apart and she dropped.

"The fire started coming through the walls and everybody was screaming because the fire was hurting them. I jumped out the window and landed on the roof of a shed in the alley. I must have bounced because then I landed on the ground. I felt the pain right away and couldn't move my leg, so I knew it was broken."

(To read more interviews with the survivors, visit www.olafire.com/survivors.asp#208.)

We graduated and went to different high schools, me to an all-boys school, Joann probably to an all-girls school. That's the way it was in those days.

I don't know what ever happened to Joann. I haven't googled her because her name is so common, I assume I'd find eight gazillion entries. But I've never forgotten her.

God bless Joann. God bless Dad.

A postscript: The fire caused school districts throughout the country to drastically improve fire-code standards. No more highly varnished wood floors, for example. School children today are much safer from fire than they were all those years ago.

I wonder if the massacre in Newtown will result in changes.

xxx

 

horizontal rule

horizontal rule



   
   


Kate's Recent Columns...
HOW A RETAILER CAN HELP A VENDOR CREATE A PRODUCT; Product testing with store customer.

MY VISIT TO SOUTH KOREA; Crafts in a war zone?

A PERSONAL VIEW OF SCHOOL TRAGEDIES; The Newtown Massacre brought back memories.

MEMORIES OF 9/11; A proud but humbling experience.

THE AMERICAN DREAM, UPDATED; Something achieved, something lost: the end of a hard, but wonderful era.

DEATH BY KILLER MOP DOLL: CHAPTER ONE.

WHAT HALLOWEEN CHARACTERS DO YOU HAVE AT WORK? They're everywhere! They're everywhere!

BOB AND DARWIN; Reprinted from the May 15, 1986 edition of Profitable Craft Merchandising.

EXCERPT: YOU DID WHAT IN THE DITCH? FOLKLORE OF THE AMERICAN QUILTER; An edited version of the author's preface.

ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN; Chapter One from a hot new comedy/mystery novel.

WHERE AND HOW DO WE PERCEIVE BEAUTY? Are we open to unexpected wonder?

THE DUNCAN FAMILY; Winner of CHA's Special Recognition award.

SEWING FOR DUMMIES(R), 3RD EDITION REVEALS TEN BEGINNER MISTAKES; Basic sewing tips for Novices.

MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND THE POST-50 GENERATION; These are modern...conveniences?

CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE THAT WILL COME SOON; In fact, they're already happening.

WAKING UP IN THE LAND OF GLITTER; Reprinted by permission by Grand Central Publishing. Copyright, 2010.

PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS; Are you ready for the worst?

CRAFT THERAPY COULD INJECT A HEALTHIER BOTTOM LINE; A website that shows how crafts are good for consumers' health, and good for business.

WORKING IN A HOME OFFICE; Benefits, problems, and tips learned the hard way.

INDUSTRY VETERANS KEEP WRITING; Short stories, romance and mystery novels, and reference books.

MOTHER'S DAY SPENDING; Less than last year, but...

WILL RETAILERS FOLLOW THE SAME DISASTROUS PATH AS NEWSPAPERS; They might, unless....

LESS SPENDING, MORE CRAFTING; The recession offers a wonderful opportunity for our industry.

A TRIBUTE TO DAVID CUNNINGHAM; Wise words for a remarkable man.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CRAFTING; Research could open the door to better health for consumers, better sales for the industry.

EMPLOYEE STOCK OWNERSHIP PLANS; Another example of unintended consequences.

SO, WHAT IS EBITDA? A hypothetical example of how it's determined and what it does - and doesn't - mean.

USING YARN TO IMPROVE THE WORLD; Knitting scarves for the Special Olympics and raising funds for the Rwanda Knits project.

WALNUT HOLLOW: AN INDUSTRY AND CONSERVATION LEADER; The company went "green" long before it was popular.

THE FUTURE OF MAKIN'S USA; Changes and improvements are in the works.

FELIX BASS

CHINA'S DEVELOPMENT AND THE FUTURE OF CHINA-US RELATIONSHIP; The Chinese ambassador's address to the Peoria (IL) Rotary Club.

REMEMBERING DAVE CUNNINGHAM; The end of an era...

MEMORIES OF BILL MANGELSEN; With lessons for all importers, businesses, and people.

RWANDA KITS UPDATE; Making a difference, changing lives.

LAST MINUTE CHA SHOW PRODUCT INFO; So many products, so little time.

WHY I SCRAPBOOK; So much more than photos and stickers.

ARE SCRAPBOOKERS CRAZY? Contests, validating lives, and more.

LETTERS FROM THE FIRE ZONE; Safe, relieved, and thankful.

A GLIMPSE INTO THE 2015 RETAILING ENVIRONMENT; Shifting demographics, household downsizing, and new marketing present industry challenges.

SOME THOUGHTS ON GLOBALIZATION; A PARADIGM REVOLUTION: The Big eating the Small is now the Fast eating the Slow.

THE CRAFT FUR DUCK; The old image of crafts needs changing.

MY 20 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY, PT. III; "We are on the edge of losing touch with our consumers."

MY 20 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY, PT. II; "We cannot...run companies for stockholders only or look for the one item that will last forever..."

MY 20 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY; "I still believe that accurate trend prediction is the most important driver for profits for companies..."

BEADING SMILES; Helping with sick kids through crafts.

THE WORST TRADE SHOW EVER; Why CHA is no longer in Chicago in winter.

ACCOUNTING FOR GIFT CARDS...Can mess up the books.

HOLIDAY EATING ADVICE; How to stay happy, if not healthy, during the holidays.

NRF'S TOP 10 TIPS FOR SMART HOLIDAY SHOPPING; What consumers are being told on getting the best deals from retailers.

THE MICHAELS SALE AND OCTOBER RETAILS RESULTS; The CLN Newsbrief emailed to subscribers.

WHAT HAPPENED TO PROFESSIONAL CRAFTERS? SOME ANSWERS; Lack of access to supplies, inept show managers, and more.

A BEGINNING (AND END) FOR SOME ... Why do some consumers stop crafting and other become lifelong enthusiasts?

YOU THINK YOU KNOW ME? Public exposure of a private life can be misleading, dangerous, and bad for business.

CLN NEWSBRIEFS: August sales and Michaels quarterly report and conference call.

CLN NEWSBRIEF: JO-ANN'S; The quarterly report and the conference call.

CHARITABLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL; Play golf, quilt, knit, scrap, stamp, paint - all for good causes.

IN DEFENSE OF PAPER; Technology has its place, but...

EXCERPTS FROM TALK GERTIE TO ME.

LITTLE WHITE LIES; Embellishing your resume can catch up to you.

THE DECORATIVE ARTS COLLECTION; The best our painters have to offer.

LETTERS TO CLN; Rag Shops, younger consumers, tough times for designers, and more.

BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE = LOYAL RETAILERS; 10 ways vendors can improve their relations with retailers.

WHAT HAPPENED TO PCP's; The savvy Professional Craft Producers have evolved.

PRIVATE CHARITY OR PUBLIC TAXES? Will the scalawags get rich and the poor remain poor?

HOW YOU CAN HELP KATRINA'S VICTIMS; Practical, concrete suggestions.

CHURCH BULLETINS; Typos that allegedly appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services.

SCRAPBOOKING A SENTIMENTAL EXPERIENCE; An example of why scrapbooking is so popular.

ANATOMY OF A PRODUCT PRESS RELEASE; What should be in it, how to write it, and a model.

EXCERPT: THE HEALING POWER OF CRAFTS; Using your hobbies to gain mental, physical, and spiritual benefits.

HOW TO SAY WHAT YOU MEAN; It's up to you to mean what you say.

ENCOURAGING BRIGHT IDEAS; Debunking myths about your staff's creativity.

SICK DAYS -- AND COMMON SENSE; Working when you're sick sets a bad example in more ways than you think.

THE ART OF COMPROMISE; It's an essential tool for the mid-level manager.

KNOWING YOUR LIMITATIONS; Thinking of trying a new category, such as scrapbooking? Answer these questions first.

PROGRESS? IF YOU SAY SO.; Are craft stores losing their identity.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T; Simple acts make a big difference.

FOSTERING CREATIVITY; The care and feeding of artists is a tricky business.

DIRECTIONAL SIGNALS, WHO'S TALKING, WHO'S LISTENING; How to avoid communication snafus.

WANNA JOIN A CLUB?; Not this one, please?

GRAPVINES: STOPPING OFFICE GOSSIP; Practical ways to minimize the damage.

EMAIL: THE UPS AND DOWNS; We can't live without it but we're paying a price.

LONG TERM SATISFACTION: Easy to cheapen products, but at what cost to your reputation?

EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION: WHY BOTHER?; Because it's not only fair, it's good business, too.