As anyone who grew up in Kensington, Roseland and Pullman knows, all you have to do is mention one of the many names we all loved, and the memories come flooding back.
Let’s start with a walk down “The Ave” (Michigan Avenue) from 111th Street. A few of the meaningful names are Giovanni’s and Nino’s for pizza and Thom McAn’s, Bovenkirks, Malings and Robert Hall for clothing of varied sorts. For real variety, the name that reigns supreme is Gately’s.
Gately’s was basically our Marshall Fields, where we could find everything for we need for our school and social lives, even the organizations we belonged to, like the Brownies, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. With numerous different departments from the basement bakery and grocery store to the first-floor sales aisle and glass sales display cases to the men’s resting balcony and shoe department, with the restaurant in the back, Gately’s was a one-stop shop for many Roseland families.
Stu DeJong was the local hobby store. With shelves and shelves of model cars it was a destination for most of Roseland’s young boys. Woolworth’s, Neisner’s and Kresgee’s were the dime stores that sold knick-knacks and offered counter service and restaurant seating. When it came to appliances, we had our choice of Montgomery Ward or Sears. They also sold everything from bicycles to tools and sporting goods. Roseland was more than just “The Ave” when it came to last names that conjured great memories.
. After years of living on the North Side of Chicago and returning to my roots through writing this column, I found myself comforted by memories inspired by the last names that have always existed in our lives.
Panozzo, Frigo, Risatti, LaRocca, Rigoni, Pesavento, Gasparini, Gonzalez, Spigolon, Parise, Chatlos, Giamo, Adducci, Sandona, Venturin, Carli, Raffin, Munoz, Bovino, Arvia and Ness are just some of the family names that many former Kensington residents have a connection to. These names and others are woven throughout our histories like a comforting sweater or scarf.
Dal Santo’s Italian Sausage got its start on 115th and is now in Steger. Traverso’s which began as Ken & Dick’s on Front Street at 113th, is now a staple on Harlem Avenue in Orland Park. Giovanni’s Pizza is long gone, but Nino’s Pizza with its Roseland style décor is located just passed Cicero on 111th Street in Alsip.
Whenever a former resident of Roseland or Kensington opens a business, they can count visits from their former neighbors. Gino Maira has Mama Vesuvio’s East, where Roselandites gather most days of the week.
Run by the Damiano family, D & D Italian Foods is another place you can count on running into former Roseland residents. Whenever I shop there, I always have to be on my toes for who I might run into. Being the youngest in a large family, there have been many times someone who went to school with one of my brothers or sisters has stopped me.
If anyone is aware of any other gathering places for those from Roseland, Pullman or Kensington, please pass that information along to me. I’ve even heard of Roselandites getting together in Arizona and Florida a few times a year to reminisce about the good old days.
The Roseland we all grew up in still exists in our hearts, and one of the times that stories of the good old days abound is at funeral homes when someone we know has passed away. Since many people have moved some distance from where they grew up, funerals have become times for asking the question: “What have you been up to?” or “Did you hear that so and so passed?” or “Where do you live now?”
Speaking of funerals, there are two deaths that have recently been brought to my attention. A couple of my sisters and brothers were close friends with Roseland’s Laverne (Belligio) and her brother Gene LaFleur. Laverne’s daughter Linda Sigrist informed me that her mother passed away in Arizona due to COVID back in November. Laverne was very active and attended numerous Roseland Roundtable events.
Gina Magnabosco passed away in October and is missed by many. It was noted that she had stopped attending Mass at St. Anthony and her presence is sorely missed. Gina was a special friend to me whose specialty was making grustoli, the Italian Christmas cookie from Italy’s Veneto Region. Gina always made sure to bake hundreds of grustoli so that she could present them to many of her relatives and friends. I was honored to be among those who received her delicious gifts annually. In Gina’s honor, for this past Christmas season, I used my mother’s recipe to bake Grustoli for family members friends and, in particular, Gina’s family.