Remembering today’s ‘good old days’

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We always talk with great fondness about the Roseland of decades past while we embrace the last vestiges of those glory days. Unfortunately, the pandemic has cast a dark shadow over these living reminders of our cherished past. In many ways, last year has been one of loss as we look forward to 2021 with hope for better times. Many of the places, events and organizations we’ve clung to in recent years have either gone temporarily or permanently dark. I think it is fitting to recall some of the great memories each of them has brought into our lives.

As we’ve grown older. many of us have had little opportunities for social interaction with people we’ve known for many years. The Spaghetti-Os were a beacon of light for those who have known each other since their childhood. Many members in their 80s were able to count on that one time a month to see their old classmates and fellow troublemakers.

Throughout the years, I remember speaking to those Spaghetti-Os who would stop in the middle of a conversation. They would turn to one of the other members across the table to verify the stories of their antics as teenagers back in ’40s or ’50s. They took great pride in bringing up those stories and laughing about them, because now some of them have to use a walker or a cane to get around. When those stories came up, you could see the sparkle of youth in their eyes.

For us younger Spaghetti-Os — in our 60s and 70s — it was a pleasure to see people who were making use of their retirement by being snowbirds or visiting their grandchildren or even doing some kind of part-time job. We also had fun being the center of attention at the table when we would manage to convince one of our children to join us so we could show them off to the other members.

Now that the Spaghetti-Os are a memory, they have become a lasting part of the photo album in our mind thanks to all of the great events Bonny and George Sandona organized. There are plenty of photos floating around the internet and also the annual directory/yearbooks and Christmas cards that Bonny would make sure everyone received.

Carlo Lorenzetti’s closed its doors and everyone fondly recalls Carlo’s many establishments throughout the years. The first one I recall was on 111th Street just down the hill from Michigan Avenue. After that, came the suburbs and at one time, three or four different establishments at one time.

Lorenzetti’s was such a part of everyone’s life, that when they remodeled the Chicago Heights location a few years ago, they kept it looking traditional. The major alterations were to remove unnecessary stairs and raised platforms. Lorenzetti’s always catered to its faithful clientele and that was their goal. Carla and Buddy were always supportive of the members of Spaghetti-Os and they, in turn, supported Carlo’s as best they could. The staff made taking care of the Spaghetti-Os a priority every single month and the members were appreciative. If ever there was a mutual admiration society, Spaghetti-Os and the Lorenzetti family was it.

Another institution that has been altered is St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Kensington. Throughout the years, former parishioners have come through to support the parish of their youth. St. Anthony’s was the site of their family’s baptisms, sacraments, schooling, marriages and funerals. Over the years, as the parish has changed, two things everyone counted on were the annual dinner dance and the Feast of St. Anthony celebration.

Entire families would attend these events and contact their old friends to make certain they too would be attending. Some of the St. Anthony classes would hold mini-reunions at the dinner dance and take an annual photo. The dinner dance gave people the opportunity to go from table to table or from person to person to catch up on what had happened in their lives in the past year.

The Saint Anthony Feast celebration was a much more casual event with people coming by throughout the day. The music may have been updated to a more Latin sound, but it was a welcome backdrop to the great food and conversation that took place.

Hopefully, the future holds promise that we’ll survive the pandemic and rise above it. We need continuity, not just in our daily lives, but also in the fulfillment of the memories that sustain us. Those good times we shared will return one day and we will be retelling those stories of our youthful mischievous ways.


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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