15 years, just like that!

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I eagerly await the coming of September every year, but this year feels special because it marks 15 years since I took over penning this column. I’ve covered topics ranging from the good old days of church processions and carnivals to the good times we had at the favorite places of our youth, like “The Ave” (Michigan Avenue). Many of the topics I’ve covered have resulted in online discussions and real-life visits to the nostalgic locations those columns mentioned.

The greatest source of information and inspiration for this column is conversations and discussions I’ve been a part of. As everyone is aware, the mere mention of something to do with Roseland will make friends out of strangers. Former Roseland residents have a knack for drawing out fellow Roselandites, where they’re currently living in Chicago or elsewhere around the world. Just mentioning Roseland, wearing something Roseland related, or looking at photos of Roseland’s past is enough to get a conversation started that’s hard to stop.

Thanks to Pullman’s becoming a part of the National Parks, the Pullman National Historical Park has been added to many “to do” travel lists. When I served as a docent at the Pullman Exhibit Hall (formerly the American Legion Hall) at 112th and Cottage Grove, many visitors to the national park would stop by. They often shared stories of Roseland and Pullman and their relatives who had worked for the Pullman Company. Many of these visitors proudly shared how they were on an ancestry or genealogy trip spurred by their grandparents or parents having spent some of their working years at Pullman and living in a Pullman row house.

Pullman holds a special place in the lives of many couples because their first home was an apartment on Pullman’s “Honeymoon Row.” These are the apartments mainly on 114th and Champlain Avenue that made for a great, inexpensive place to live while newlyweds worked and saved enough money to buy their first house. For many of these couples that first house was a Pullman row house and led to their buying a larger Pullman house as their family grew.

Throughout the years, I’ve written 180 columns and covered a variety of topics including a multitude of individuals, organizations and events, and a whole host of memorable topics. Of all the topics I’ve covered, the most popular ones that centered on dining out; specialty foods like the Italian ciopette, Liberty Bakery’s Atomic Cake, or Pannetti’s roast beef; and our local restaurants like Parise’s, Pesavento’s, Venice Inn, Traverso’s and Giovanni’s.

We all know some of the restaurants that have recently closed include Carlo Lorenzetti’s and Traverso’s on Harlem Avenue. However, you can still enjoy the Lorenzetti family hospitality by joining the many Roselandites dining at Livio’s Restaurant on US41 in St. John, Indiana. And Traverso’s has now reopened as part of the Baracco’s family of restaurants. In honor of the traditions Roselandites enjoyed at Traverso’s, the remodeling of the restaurant has kept the interior very much as it has always been with some nice new touches. The food is excellent with a buffet from 11-3 p.m. Monday to Friday, which avoids night driving. An inviting new feature is an Italian deli and wine store. Best of all, is that it is a welcome place for all Roselandites to get together for a good time to recall the memories of Roseland that we all enjoy sharing.

The community of Roseland had it all and each neighborhood, be it Pullman, Kensington, Rosemoor, West Pullman, Gano, Stewart Ridge, or Sheldon Heights, had its schools, playgrounds and parks, each creating a personalized world of memories. Through the years I’ve been kept abreast of many of those memories by those willing to share their stories.

Schools, their playgrounds, and their sports teams have always been a good source of stories. For instance, recent Facebook posts have centered on what was commonly known as Morandi’s Park, formally known as Kensington Park. Someone mentioned the keyholes at the east end of the park by the tracks. Over the years, I’ve learned that Bumtown got its name from the bums getting off the trains at the keyholes as the trains slowed to begin entering Chicago. Also, Kensington Park because the original Kensington Station was located at 117th Street before 115th Street became the official station.

At one time, both Fenger and Mendel high schools were respective sport league leaders. If ever there was a reason to bring out old newspaper clippings, high school sports discussions would do it. After World War II, the camaraderie of spending years together in battle was continued by battling on baseball fields at Chicago parks.

Although I’ve written 180 columns over the past 15 years, there are always more stories that I am willing to write if you readers are willing to share them with me. I am ready to spend time talking about a memory that interests you and that I could write up and share with others. Most of my stories came about simply from paying attention and asking a couple of questions.

Take my articles on the “Great Ciope Hunt,” for example. Folks would often mention getting hot, freshly baked ciope from Torino/Gonnella. I talked up the topic and someone contacted me about Piemonte Bakery, which had been in Rockford until a few years ago. It turned out that our Kensington ciope source was originally a “branch” of the Rockford bakery. I would never have found that out had someone not decided to share their story with me.

Although I’ve listed so many resources I’ve used throughout the 15 years that I’ve been writing this column, the best source has always been the people who are willing to share their stories whether in person or in writing. As a writer, it is my job to edit or correct any stories shared with me so that the one who partners with me by sharing their story looks good. Come to think of it, that’s the same line of thinking when I’m dancing: my job is to make my partner look good and it is the same when someone partners with me in sharing a story for all to remember.

My next book will be titled “Roseland Recollections,” and I hope you will share many more stories with me so that I can fill it with stories and memories from Roseland.

Love the column? Buy the book! Copies of “Petals from Roseland: Fond Memories of Chicago’s Roseland, Pullman and Kensington Neighborhoods” are available from me with prompt delivery at $20 + $5 s&h. Contact me at petalsfromroseland@gmail.com or 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756.


About Paul Basile

Paul Basile has been the editor of Fra Noi for a quarter of a century. Over that period, he and his dedicated family of staff members and correspondents have transformed a quaint little community newspaper into a gorgeous glossy magazine that is read and admired across the nation. They also maintain a cluster of national and local websites and are helping other major metropolitan areas launch their own versions of Fra Noi.

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