People to see, places to go . . .

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My recent columns have been nostalgic trips through our Roseland, Pullman and Kensington memories. For this month’s column I’ve got some great events and happenings that I’d like to invite everyone to attend. Mark your calendar so you can attend these events and share the good times with family and friends.

Pullman National Monument is an exciting locale for a summer outing and is a leisurely drive from anywhere in the city or suburbs. The rangers are knowledgeable about the history surrounding the Pullman factory, the 1894 strike and the Pullman Porters. They are willing to answer any questions you might have regarding the company and its workers.

There is plenty of parking behind the administration building, where the main entrance is located, and the site is handicapped accessible. Once inside, you will see a remarkable display about the Pullman legacy. There are artifacts and dioramas displaying about Pullman’s diverse history.

Since being declared the Pullman National Monument, Pullman has seen many improvements that would not have occurred otherwise. From the beautiful landscaping to the replicated brick work, Pullman has achieved a visual charm that longtime residents could never have envisioned. I recall giving tours of the Pullman factory site and the tourists would see the over-grown weeds covering the grounds. They would look at me in total disbelief when I’d say, “Someday they will be beautifully landscaped.” That day has arrived!

Summer is a great time to take a self-guided walking tour of George Pullman’s legacy: the town of Pullman. During the fall and winter months, the trees are barren and showing their age all the while putting the Queen Anne architecture on full display. However, during the spring and summer months Pullman is a stroller’s paradise with an abundance of natural beauty. The wonder of Pullman’s architecture is enhanced by the trees being in full bloom and providing a shroud of greenery.

The Pullman Exhibit Hall is the new name for the former Visitor’s Center. I recall attending American Legion Post #49 events in that building, which was added in the 1960’s. The Exhibit Hall has displays on George Pullman’s family history, remnants from the Pullman residence in the Prairie Avenue Gold Coast District, plenty of factory photos and newspaper clippings of historical significance. There’s even an entire wall dedicated to the Pullman Free School of Manual Training. There is also a 25-minute film full of fascinating facts about George Pullman and his family, the beginnings of the Pullman Company, the residents of the town of Pullman, and the 1960 movement to save Pullman when the Roseland Chamber of Commerce wanted to make a date for Pullman with a wrecking ball.

And now, here’s your chance to take part in the hunt for old friends, good times, irreverent memories and irrelevant comments. It’s the Pullman Family Picnic, slated to start at 1 p.m. on Aug. 6 at Arcade Park! The annual “must have” t-shirt for this year is dedicated to all the Pullman bars, taverns and clubs that are long gone. These places served as community centers for friendships, coming of age, and community information for residents.

This picnic has always been an all-ages reunion for former residents of the Roseland, Pullman and Kensington neighborhoods and the Roseland community in general. In years past, groups from Mendel, St. Willibrords, and Fenger have had all-classes mini-reunions along with many members of Spaghetti-Os. As the best possible antidote to COVID, this year’s picnic will be a much-needed opportunity to catch up on what’s been happening, especially since Lorenzetti’s and Traverso’s have closed.

This year’s picnic will provide an opportunity to honor the memory of the late, great George Sandona. Bonny and George Sandona were the president and vice president behind the Spaghetti-Os. George passed away back on April 28 and is fondly remembered by those fortunate enough to cross his path of 93 years. Together Bonny and George along with the Lorenzetti family gave the Spaghetti-Os a place to gather in the name of the Roseland so many fondly remember. We’ll always remember George for his smile and his humor, which neither time nor age could dim.

Stepping out of Pullman but sticking with our Roseland residents, I’d like for the readers of this column to consider a visit to the Casa Italia grounds at 1621 N 39th Ave, Stone Park, IL 60165. 708-345-5933. Casa Italia is the 17-acre home to the Italian American Veterans Museum, Italian Cultural Center, Florence Bartolomei Roselli Library and Calvary Hill Shrine and the Italian American Hall of Honor in Community Center. Many Italian-American organizations, including the Veneti Nel Mondo, hold their meetings there. The Casa is located on the grounds of the form Sacred Heart Seminary, run by the Scalabrini Fathers, where many of St. Anthony’s finest graduates, including yours truly, got their start as young men. Check out their website at casaitaliachicago.com.

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, Indiana.

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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