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Mary Ellen Pettenon
Birth: Jul. 23, 1949
Cook County
Illinois, USA
Death: Dec. 1, 1958
Cook County
Illinois, USA

On December 1, 1958, a fire broke out in the basement of Our Lady of the Angels catholic school in Chicago, educational home to approximately 1,600 students in Kindergarten through 8th grade.
The fire started in the basement sometime between 2:00 and 2:20 that cold December afternoon, in a cardboard trash barrel at the foot of the northeast stairwell. The wooden staircase itself burst into flames and, acting like a chimney, sent super hot gases, fire and smoke swirling up the stairwell. The first floor landing was equipped with a heavy wooden door which effectively blocked the fire and heat from entering the first floor hallway. But the second floor landing had no doors - the fire, smoke and heat were free to roam the second floor halls at will. As the fire was climbing (consuming) the stairway, a pipe chase running from the basement to the cockloft above the second floor false ceiling gave the superheated gases a direct route to the attic, where the temperature rapidly rose higher and higher until it finally reached ignition temperature.

But for the innocent victims of Our Lady of the Angels, it was too late.
Father: John Pettenon, Sr.
Mother: Carmela (Ciancarelli) Pettenon
Sister: Joanne and Marilyn Pettenon
Brothers: John Jr., Robert and Richard Pettenon
Grandparents: Lucy Baratta, and Mario and Rena Pettenon

She was born on my third birthday, July 23, 1949. Mary Ellen was a wonderful, loving little girl. We were very close growing up and even shared a bedroom together. We had a little brother, John who was also at OLA at the time of the fire in first grade. The day after Mary Ellen's funeral our mother gave birth to a little girl and named her Marilyn. Since then they had two more boys, Robert and Richard. My parents are now grandparents to ten grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. They live in Schaumburg and are doing very well. All of the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren know about Mary Ellen and what happened to her. We miss her very much and think about what she would be like if she were here. Her life was cut so's too bad that she had to die at such a young age. I wish that she could have had a chance to become a mother and a grandmother like myself. I just live for my family and I know that she would have been the same. She was a very loving little girl, always smiling. She cried the night before the fire at bedtime for no reason. She said that she couldn't tell us why she was crying. We have often wondered if she had some kind of a sign that she was going to die the next day or that something bad was going to happen. We will never know.
-- (Joanne, Sister)

Family links: 
  John J. Pettenon (1922 - 2006)
Saint Joseph Cemetery
River Grove
Cook County
Illinois, USA
Created by: Damian Omar Plaza in C...
Record added: Oct 23, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 12140743
Mary Ellen Pettenon
Added by: Damian Omar Plaza in Chicago
Mary Ellen Pettenon
Added by: Damian Omar Plaza in Chicago
Mary Ellen Pettenon
Added by: westside
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