A love letter to Roseland

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As we look forward to Valentine’s Day, I’d like to look back at some of the places in Roseland that we came to love.

As we took advantage of the many opportunities offered to us while we were children growing up in Roseland, we had no idea we were making deposits in our memory bank of the things we love. We grew up with the love of our relatives and close friends and we returned that love. What we didn’t realize is that those feeling of love extended beyond just the people in our lives.

As we lived our lives in the houses we grew up in, the streets we walked, the schools and churches we attended, they became integral parts of those fond memories. As we grew older and moved up the educational ladder and then out into the work world, we formed new friendships, created new love connections and embraced new places that made new deposits to our memory bank.

All those deposits in our memory banks are there for us to look back upon with love.

I recall growing up at 15 E. 116th St. and walking over to Scanlan School to use the playground equipment that the Catholic schools didn’t have. We played fast pitch against the school wall, climbed up the Daddy Long Legs and slid down them to the concrete ground. If you ever screwed up and hurt yourself flying down the Daddy Long Legs or jumping off the swings, it gave your buddies the right to call you “dummy” and that was the extent of their sympathy.

I loved those moments of camaraderie because public school kids and catholic school kids all played together. St. Anthony’s was mostly Italian, but when we went and played at Kensington Park (Morandi’s), most of the kids were the Polish from St. Salomea’s. We all got along fine and played on mixed teams and it didn’t matter.

A lot of the boys were involved with the Roseland Little League, either north or south. Those baseball games were responsible for a lot of lifelong friendships and memories. I remember living across from the Little League Field on 125th and Michigan for a couple of years. Besides the organized games, the neighborhood kids would have pick-up games all summer long.

When school started up again at the end of summer, we all went our separate ways back to our school neighborhoods. That was when we got back to our Italian friends and classmates to create more memories. Many of those memories were crafted by the nuns and teachers we had—some great and not so great moments.

When we got into high school is when the memory bank saw a lot of deposits. That was when we spread our wings and went out on our own and wherever we wanted. Then we started “cruising the Ave” and attending St. Willy’s and Mendel dances. We went roller skating at the Swank on 111th and shopping at Gately’s or Three Sisters. We hung out with our group of friends at our favorite place and dated our favorite special person.

All those experiences were deposits into our memory bank and those deposits turned into moments that we look back on with love. Those memories are what created our love for Roseland!

Now that I’m closer to 80 than I am to 70, I look back on my memories with love and fondness and appreciate those experiences that helped me grow either as successes or lessons learned. I’m sure that each of us has a memory bank overflowing with love for all those memories that have contributed to who we are today.

Historic Pullman Foundation is celebrating its 50th anniversary and has had a lot of events and have even more planned for 2024. I was fortunate enough to win a 2023 House Tour commemorative license plate. It was fitting since I served as one of the many house tour volunteers during that weekend. Also, my friend Cyd DeNardi Maravalo had asked if I could get her a commemorative plate. I couldn’t but I was able to share mine with her. I did the next best by photographing the license plate I won, matting it, and shipping it to her. She lives in South Bend, Indiana but grew up on St. Lawrence so it really lifted her spirits.

The Pullman Coffee Club is doing well and looking forward to winter winding down. The beautiful workmanship they’ve put into restoring “Sessions” is truly a sight to see. When the weather is more accommodating, they have a beautiful veranda overlooking the Pullman National Historical Park. Pat and Mike Shymanski and their family and Jim Badali have given Pullman something to be very proud of and that will be of great benefit to Pullman itself.

Pullman Events  . . . As we’re approaching the end of winter and the coming spring keep your eyes and ears open and ready for new events that will be taking place. There should be a couple of groundbreaking events for a few new Pullman businesses in support of the new visitors to Pullman thanks to our National Park status.

My book “Petals from Roseland: Fond Memories of Chicago’s Roseland, Pullman and Kensington Neighborhoods” is available from me at $20 + $5 s&h. Contact me at petalsfromroseland@gmail.com or 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; res: 773-701-6756. 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, Indiana.

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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