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Among other things …

There are times when I have to wonder what I’m going to write about, and then there are serendipitous times like this! We’ve had reunion picnics, a garden tour, progress on the artists residence, the loss of the Gately’s building, a St. Anthony’s festival, the loss of Roselandites who we’ve known from years gone by, and the initiation of the Kickstarter campaign for my book.” “Petals from Roseland: Fond Memories of Chicago’s Roseland, Pullman, Kensington Neighborhoods.”

Summer always provides us with plenty reunions but the best seem to hold off until August and that’s why it gets top billing. There is still time for you and your family and friends to make plans to come by Pullman. Aug. 3, the first Saturday of the month, is the date of the Annual Pullman Picnic. You have the choice to either pack up or pick-up your family’s favorite picnic food, or come to Pullman with a few dollars and purchase your food and drink here. Part of the allure is that you don’t have to bring anything or you can bring all you like.

Excitement is brewing for this year’s reunion because a new feature has been added. Each site where participants set up their picnics will have a sign displaying Roseland area high school names and graduation years. This will serve as a great icebreaker because we’ve all changed, whether we like it or not, and recognizing someone from 50-plus years is a “Jeopardy” contest all on its own.

The way the Pullman Reunion works is people show up at about 1 p.m. or so and then walk around Arcade Park, stopping at random groups and saying “Hello” to the many people they recognize but whose name they can’t recall. Everyone is in the same boat as far as recalling people’s names so there’s never an issue in saying so. Also, let’s face it: do you want to wait for a life-ending event to go over old times? The Pullman Reunion Picnic is the perfect opportunity to cover what’s been going on with old friends for the past decades instead of waiting to cross paths at Panozzo Brothers.

In June, the Annual Pullman Garden Tour took place with about seven Pullman gardens on display. I led a tour of the gardens and took my time so that each small group got to view the gardens while 10+ members of the group waited for their turn. Anyone familiar with the Pullman landscape is aware that our yards are fairly small and if you do them up right, there’s only room for so many people at one time. However, those on my tour get a solid dose of Pullman’s unique historical highlights and information that I’ve acquired over the years. It’s always my pleasure to share my knowledge and gain immortality by increasing the knowledge of others.

As we learned back in May, Fr. Mark Krylowicz will remain as St. Anthony’s guiding light for another three years. For this, we St. Anthony parishioners are fortunate. Fr. Mark is still with us because he didn’t want to see the accomplishments of his past 12 years of service to the parishioners be dismissed. Fr. Mark is an individual and has his ways and I defy any of my readers to say that in their own lives they please everyone. If you take a secular view, which one of us is running a million dollar branch of a corporation? Fr. Mark has been our “phoenix” to the ashes left behind by the supposed guardians of St. Anthony’s that came before him.

St. Anthony’s Festival took place on June 9 and was a slightly wet success. Once again, attendees and volunteers had to contend with intermittent sprinkles. Somehow, someway, the people of St. Anthony’s turn any weather we have — be it is in the 90s or 60s, or wet and dry all in one day — into the best annual event ever. With the three traditional types of food served, there was plenty of to choose from. There also was a wide variety of drinks and treats covering the favorites of everyone from age 5 to 85. The three bands that played throughout the day were excellent, and Suzy Lebron was an excellent dance partner. When we got up, we were joined by 89-year-old Jo Navarette and 91-year-old Julia Munoz. We were the “moving crew” that kept the band busy.

The Pullman Artspace residence for artists is becoming a reality after almost 10 years of planning, community input, meeting government regulations and preservation requirements. The Pullman community is being greatly enriched by these new members who will add to the vivaciousness and longevity of the community. There will be gallery exhibits, classes, open houses, and art festivals thanks to the creative infusion these new residents will bring to Pullman, much in keeping with Pullman’s becoming a part of the National Park Service and an open and welcoming venue to all Americans. All in all, that is the concept that George Pullman set as a standard for his namesake town — to encourage a harmonious living arrangement that would improve the skills, education and wholesome living standards for the residents of his town.

Among the many Pullmanites and Roselandites who have passed are Tony Lofrano, Joseph Fugger, Mark Galvan, John Salin, Florence Baldacci, Virginia Panozzo, Silvio Panozzo, Giselle Panozzo, Louise Krylowicz, Maria Cogo, Carol Tome, Roy Pesavento, Al Busin, Eva Vische, Vilma Dal Corobbo, Ted Cortese, Mary Trevisan, and Joseph Moncada. We respectfully miss them and offer our sincerest wish for comfort for their families and friends.

The Gately’s building caught fire in the early morning hours of June 7 and was extensively reported on. A number of TV stations ran interviews and films recalling the fond memories we have of Gately’s. I did my duty by getting as close to the sight as possible and taking memorable photographs. This is the one exception to my personal rule of not showing photos of things as they presently are compared to how we remember all things Roseland. It is my small way to ensure our memories of our Roseland stay intact in our mind’s eye. My Facebook photos serve as a place keeper because I believe The Ave as we knew it is no more. At last report, the Gately family, the Raffin family, and Alderman Beale are creating a plan to save, restore and display the sign locally.

No matter what condition Roseland was in, we could still take a ride down Michigan Avenue and, though it didn’t have our stores, it still resembled The Ave. Now, with the hole left on the Gately’s site, our memory is what we have to rely on — hank God! Due to those memories, we have our Gately’s in our hearts and in our mind’s eye just the way we lived it.

As I write this column, I’m keeping a close watch on my Kickstarter campaign for my book — actually “our” book: “Petals from Roseland: Fond Memories of Chicago’s Roseland, Pullman, Kensington Neighborhoods.” I hope that by the time you read this column the book will be deep into the process of being published. The publishing of the book came about because I was wise enough to contact my friend Sharon Woodhouse of Concise Concepts with more than 25 years experience in publishing. Sharon and I became acquainted over 20 years ago and always wanted to work together but couldn’t find the right project. This book is the right project and I am hopeful that my readers will have their own personal copies and copies to gift by November.

Contact me at 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756; or cjfranoi@yahoo.com.

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.