Looking back and ahead

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This January marks a hopeful look ahead to a healthier year. COVID was with us all last year and most of the year before. Many of us some of us decided to deal with the challenges head on while others decided to contend with them from the shelter of our own homes.

Some of us have been personally touched by loss over this year whether brought on by COVID or as the result of living life in general. For some, the loss of a companion pet affected us more than we anticipated and just as much as the loss of a valued family member.

There have also been uplifting and positive moments throughout the year. I know of a number of people who have decided to take advantage of the perspective on life given them by these unusual times. Some people have made the decision to change their lives by retiring, while others have decided to move closer to their children or family and friends.  One friend has even scheduled a London-Paris-Rome trip for next year. which she has put off for a number of years.

One of the great events of this past year was the grand opening of the Pullman National Monument. As a weekly volunteer at the Pullman Exhibit Hall (for many years known as the Pullman Visitor’s Center), I can attest to the fact that there are many more visitors to the amazing Pullman neighborhood, which many of us grew up in.

The neighborhood is a safe and beautiful place right off of I-94, the Bishop Ford, at 111th, and if you haven’t been there in quite a while, you will be surprised.  The grounds used to be covered in woods and weeds and fenced in completely. The fence is gone and the Pullman National Monument of the National Parks and Partners is a beautiful sight to behold.

The Monument is fully staffed by the National Park Rangers and the Monument houses the administrative offices. The grounds of the Monument are actually under the control of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as is the Hotel Florence.

The Monument’s Visitor’s Center is well-worth an hour’s visit if you want to fully absorb the stories of the Pullman Strike and the Pullman Porters. It’s a fascinating look into the back story of the Pullman we all grew up with, offering some stories we’re not aware of.  The Pullman Exhibit Hall still has a great display on the Pullman family, the factory, the neighborhood and the Pullman Technical Free School of Manual Training along with a 25-minute film.

At the end of 2021, it was announced that the Spaghettio’s were officially ending its run under the direction of Bonny and George Sandona. For almost 20 years, they have maintained a place for Roselandites to gather to share fond memories of our beloved Roseland community and all its neighborhoods.  Beginning at Camadeca’s Restaurant, the Spaghettio’s wound up its long history at Carlo Lorenzetti’s in Chicago Heights.  Through the generous consideration of the Lorenzetti family, Spaghettio’s was able to continue holding their dinner meetings at Carlo’s without having to fulfill an attendance guarantee. Moving forward after Carlo’s closed, the problem arose, and still persists, of finding a restaurant that doesn’t require a guarantee.

Since we’re talking about restaurants, I’d like to make everyone aware that, since early November, there is now a large Culver’s Restaurant in Pullman at 111th and Doty Avenue.  It has plenty of sit-down space inside, a drive-through and weather-dependent outdoor seating. The food is great and up to Culver’s high standards.  The customer service is superb and friendly.  This is in addition to the food court that already exists in the 111 Food Court in the same strip mall across from the District Police Station.

Pullman is living up to the long-range plans that were laid out as hopes and dreams many years ago. With two shopping areas at 109th and a health club at 108th on Doty Avenue, the Pullman Community Center at 104th and Doty, an Amazon distribution center at 105th and Woodlawn, the Whole Foods Warehouse and two Gotham Greens locations, Pullman has become an economic force for Chicago’s Far South Side.

Along with its economic importance, Pullman now has assumed a role as a National Monument with the believable goal of becoming a National Park and leaving the ranks of National Monuments. The difference is a matter of great importance financially speaking, as Congress funds the budget for national parks while monuments must find their own funding.

The Pullman House Project, a partner of the National Park Service is currently renovating One Florence Blvd., the original home of Pullman’s plant manager (the Session’s house) with facilities to include a Welcome Center where their tours will start, along with a small coffee and gift shop and accessible washroom facilities. A grand opening celebration is anticipated for late spring 2022, along with a guided tour program. For details, visit www.PullmanAtHome.org

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church is in the midst of the Chicago Archdiocese’s Renew My Church Program. Cardinal Cupich will make his final decision regarding structural changes in early 2022.  No changes have been made at this time as data gathered by the Grouping Feedback and Discernment Team is being assembled and considered.

Moving forward into this New Year, we’ve adjusted to the COVID regulations for the benefit of ourselves and others. We’ve gotten used to seeing more of our close friends and family. Now it’s up to us to make 2022 special and personally rewarding. Let us commit to making 2022 the best possible year we can for the benefit of ourselves, our families and our friends.


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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