As kids in Roseland, we could always find something to do, a park to play at, a club to join, or for the solitary-minded individual, things to do on one’s own. Roseland was a kids’ town where parents made it a point to ensure that there were always activities to keep their offspring occupied.
After World War II, there was a veritable outbreak of organizations and sports clubs, where that spirit of friendship and camaraderie engendered by years of serving together could continue. This spirit was passed on to the next generation of Roselandites, and helped to create our memories.
The availability of the local parks — Palmer Park, West Pullman Park, Fernwood Park, Gately Park, Kensington/Morandi Playground Park, the Pump and of course, the beach at Calumet Park — were all summer destinations for outdoor activities. I recall going to the “rocks” at the beach with my brother Augie.
Everyone was getting pushed in by him, but being taller, no one dared to push him in — except for me, when I took my opportunity to sneak behind him and push him off the rocks. It was made even funnier by the fact that he couldn’t swim. I wasn’t worried, though, because he knew how to dog paddle, which he did well enough to get out and chase me to throw me in. That’s just one memory of being at the beach. Growing up and going back to the beach on dates brings back a whole other set of memories.
Growing up across from the Little League Field for a few years was a great experience. I could watch the league teams play, that is after the season started with the annual parade of teams from 111th and Michigan all the way up to 125th and the Little League Fields. LeRose Coal & Oil and Panetti’s were a couple of the sponsors of the Little League.
During the day, we neighborhood kids would take over the baseball diamonds and play a few games of baseball to pass the time. I recall the time Kathy McCay, our local awesome Tom Boy, hit a line drive to me at third base. It was such a solid hit that I couldn’t get my glove up fast enough and it hit me square in the throat! The impact knocked the wind out of me for a minute and panicked everyone. Kathy couldn’t apologize enough, but I was fine.
Summer movies were always a good way to pass the time. If you were lucky enough to pick up a brightly colored card from a Roseland merchant, you could get in to the movie for that week. One summer I made it a point to see every movie that was offered, but I wish I would have saved at least one of those cards for nostalgia’s sake.
Summer camp was another great way to pass the summer. West Pullman Park and Palmer Park both offered programs and crafts and field trips. For the kids that lived near the parks, baseball fields, tennis courts, horseshoe courts, and swimming were always available. Palmer Park even had some bocce ball courts on the south end.
My cousin Ben Martello, who now lives in Florida, reminded me that he spent all of his summers working at Gately’s People’s Store. There were a number of summer jobs throughout Roseland and connected to Roseland. I worked one summer at Interlake Steel and another I spent caddying at Olympia Fields. During my last summer of high school, I worked on 23rd Street and Calumet Avenues for Supreme Chux. The important thing of note is that I was able to get each of those jobs because I knew someone from Roseland who worked at each of those places. That was Roseland — connections!
What would summertime in Roseland have been if we didn’t have the picnics to look back on? You could always count on a family picnic, now known as barbecues, to take place during the summer. Graduations were always family picnics, either in the backyard or at the nearby park. St. Anthony’s Holy Name was famous for the great picnics they sponsored. Their picnics took place in a grove in the nearby suburbs and were always fulfilled, with sack races, baseball games, bocce and horseshoes. On the spur of the moment, you could always grab that picnic basket and head to a local park or Raceway Park or the Halsted Drive-in or Green Lake Beach with a group of friends.
My memories are full of great summers spent in and around Roseland, with each year as I got older brining new and different ways to enjoy summer. Of course, the experiences of summer were always enhanced when I got to the age where I was sharing them with someone. Our shared common memories are what make our Roseland experiences so memorable, and filled with such strong emotions, which we all share.
Carmen Joseph Arvia, 67; longtime East Hazel Crest resident formerly of Roseland; husband for 41 years of Catherine “Tina” nee Hoekstra … Diane L. Schmidt, 57; Olympia Fields resident formerly of Calumet City and Roseland; graduate of St. Anthony Grammar School … Raymond Ghidotti, 91; longtime Dolton resident formerly of Roseland; husband of the late Angie Ghidotti … Mary A. Roy nee Carbone, 84; longtime Hegewisch resident formerly of Roseland; wife of Louis A. Roy, Jr.