A wonderful way to catch up

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With COVID being such a big part of our lives for so long, it’s hard to say when annual events will return in full force. Could the Pullman Family Picnic be the only regular scheduled celebration to take place this summer in our neck of the woods? If so, let’s make the most of it!

Almost everyone has been vaccinated and mask wearing has become optional along with the relaxing of other restrictions. After so many months of life lived at a distance, the Pullman Picnic looms large. Always an important gathering, it means even more this year as we’ve come to realize how precious it is to be able to interact with others face to face.

I’ll once again be setting up a canopy for shade and chairs and water for anyone who wants to stop by and see who they might know. Feel free to stop by and relax at my set-up and review some of the Roseland, Pullman, and Kensington memorabilia I will have on hand. Spaghetti-Os members and readers of this column are among the people who have stopped by in the past.

The interesting thing is that my set-up becomes a base for them to visit with other picnickers who fill Arcade Park at 111th and Cottage Grove. I enjoy visiting with people when they arrive and once again as they’re leaving. They’re always rejuvenated and smiling, having had a great time talking about the good old days of their youth.

There are always commemorative t-shirts available along with food and drinks. There are raffles and children’s events that the grandchildren enjoy. Music is playing constantly as visitors walk from group to group to say hi and see who they might know.

Throughout the years, I’ve had many people tell me how glad they were to come to the picnic even though they didn’t know anyone there because they had a great time talking about common experiences.

There’s always talk about swimming at Palmer Park or West Pullman Park, Roseland Little League, the keyholes at Kensington Park, “cruising the Ave,” shopping at Gately’s or the Mendel dances.

Time is running out on sharing those experiences with fellow Roselandites and this is a golden opportunity to do just that.

The Pullman Picnic will take place on August 7 beginning at noon and ending somewhere around 6 p.m. There is plenty of room to set up a canopy, table, chairs and whatever else you might like to bring.

The Pullman Visitor’s Center is open so you can walk in to see the display of Pullman memorabilia, including an entire wall of items from Pullman Technical Free School of Manual Training. There is a 20-minute film on the story of the town of Pullman, and there are National Park Rangers and volunteers available with more information to share.

An event of national importance will take place in Pullman on Labor Day. That’s when local, state and federal officials will celebrate the grand opening of the Pullman National Monument.

It’s been six years since President Obama’s declared Pullman a National Monument and the National Parks Service has been busy the whole time. We were fortunate that the Historic Pullman Foundation willingly shared their Visitor’s Center office space with the NPS, allowing them to immediately begin work.

The importance of the Pullman in the establishment of Labor Day cannot be underestimated. This grand opening is a significant step in recognizing the working men and women who built this country.

Unionizing became a galvanizing force across America due to the 1894 Pullman Strike. The Pullman porters who fought for 13 years from 1912 to 1925 for union recognition with the Pullman companies is another reason for this celebration.

The grounds of the Pullman administration building have been redesigned from a fire-damaged building nestled in a field overrun with wild weeds and strewn with construction materials. It is now a beautifully landscape living memorial to the men and women who dedicated their lives, and in some cases gave their lives, in the name of the working class of America.

As we visit the Pullman National Monument, we should all take great pride, especially the many Roselandites who had close relatives and friends worked actually worked at the Pullman companies. The administration building completion is just one phase of many that are planned. The building will house exhibits and displays, classrooms, training areas, and administrative offices on the upper levels.

The actual factory buildings will also be at least partially on display as they await their phase of reconstruction. National Park rangers and volunteers from the community will conduct tours of the factory. My September column will have many more details of the grand opening events, but I suggest that you put it on your September calendar.

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.

Almost 700 copies have been sold. Roselandites who have bought my book are excited to have their memories brought to life. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have provided so many fond memories of Roseland.

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

Contact CJ Martello at 11403 S. Saint Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL 60628; 773-701-6756; or petalsfromroseland@gmail.com.


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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