A farewell to summer

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Once again, we’ve seen a summer come and go and, as usual, we get to look back on what we DIDN’T manage to get done, or attend, or see, or listen to. But let’s look at the bright side and focus on what we actually DID accomplish!

Summer in Pullman began its countdown to the always festive Labor Day Weekend with the annual Pullman Family Picnic. It was the first blazing hot Saturday in August, so it wasn’t as well attended as we had hoped. However, that didn’t stop attendees from having a great time. The smaller crowd actually allowed for longer visits with those Pullmanites and Roselandites we haven’t seen in a long time.

I staked out my usual spot at the southwest end of Arcade Park and set up my table of Roseland memorabilia. This year, I selected a display of a yearbook each from Pullman Tech, Fenger, Curtis, St. Louis Academy and my two alma maters: Sacred Heart Seminary and St. Willibrord. I also had a copy of a history of St. Solomea Parish written by Tom Draus and a display of six Arcadia books written about Pullman and Chicago’s Italians.

Two items that held the attention of anyone that noticed was a 1950s aerial view of Kensington and 115th from Prairie Avenue all the way to just beyond the IC tracks on the east side. A couple of people were able to pinpoint the houses where they grew up, once I pointed out St. Anthony’s old church building to give them a reference point. The other was the good old 1972 Roseland phonebook, which always gets people recalling their Roseland phone numbers.

Joan Bauer came by with her daughter Doris and brother Jerry and had a great time talking with Denise Fattori-Alcantar and her husband Gilbert Alcantar, Tina Muratori, Tim Zimbauer, Pete Gugielmi, and Ed Wolak Jr. Throughout the day, people walked around Arcade Park, paid visits and shared memories.

Despite the high temps, we were relatively comfortable in the shade provided by the two canopies I had set up. I also had plenty of water and drinks to keep everyone hydrated. It was a really great time talking over old memories and repeating hilarious stories we’ve heard before. Believe me, the nuns we had as school kids did not escape our judgement!

It’s been a few years since Bonny and George Sandona’s Spaghetti-Os have been able to get together. After the closing of Lorenzetti’s, we were able to get together at Traverso’s, but they closed, too, and are in the process of becoming a Barraco’s Italian Restaurant. So, it has been about three years since Spaghetti-Os has been able to do more than have a few couples get-together to see Frank Rossi and his musicians play at a local restaurant or two.

Unfortunately, George Sandona passed away at 93 years old on April 29. Rather than having a solemn wake, which isn’t anything George would have wanted, Bonny had a Celebration of Life for George at JJ Kelly’s in Lansing. The event was exactly what George would have wanted: good food, good conversation, good drinks and good music with great memories.

This celebration provided the perfect opportunity to get many of the Spaghetti-Os back together for the first time in three years. There were about 200 people in attendance and “Hi, how are you?” and the “Long time, no see!” could be heard throughout the event.

George’s and Bonny’s family came in from all over the country and enjoyed the opportunity to see family they hadn’t seen in a while. Of course, the entertainment was provided by George and Bonny’s favorite group. Frank Rossi and his band of merriment. They were so good and played such a great variety that everyone’s favorite dancing couple, Mary and Al Pizzato. couldn’t resist and got out there and danced.

One person who couldn’t make it was 94-year-old Kathy Sandona, who was stuck at her daughters in Pennsylvania. Poor girl broke her leg out there and had been stuck out there waiting for her leg to heal since early June. Hopefully, by the time you read, she’ll be back home and getting her Chicago life back together as she turned 95.

The celebration ended with Bonny presenting tear drop ash urns to George’s son and daughters and to those who helped George and Bonny through the tough times that led to the wonderful celebration of George’s life. We all knew that George was smiling down on us with his favorite parting: “Si sempre felice e gentile.” (Always be happy and kind.)

George was a Korean War Veteran and a memorial service was held for him at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. Many people made the hour’s drive to Elwood, Illinois, for the ceremony. It was a beautiful remembrance of George’s service to our country as he joined a very select club with too many members.

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. My book is also available at D & D Foods, 1023 S. Halsted, Chicago Heights, at Bookie’s New and Used Books, 10324 S. Western Ave, Chicago and at Miles Books, 2819 Jewett Ave., Highland, IN.

Contact me at petalsfromroseland@gmail.com or 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756.

 

About C.J. Martello

CJ Martello has returned to his roots as the author of “Petals from Roseland.” After five years of writing his column as a resident of Chicago's North Side, CJ put his money where his heart is and moved to Pullman, near the Roseland area in which he grew up. Having joined the Spaghetti-Os, Veneti nel Mondo and St. Anthony of Padua Parish and being one of the founders of the Roseland Roundtable Facebook page, CJ has become reacquainted with countless friends and acquaintances from his youth. CJ is looking forward to retirement and completing the books he has put on hold, including one that will encompass as much of Roseland's rich, beloved history as possible.

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