Complete your summer bucket list at the Pullman Picnic

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August may be fast approaching, but there’s still time to fulfill your summer bucket list. For all current and former residents of Pullman and environs, that means marking your calendars for the 22nd Annual Pullman Reunion Picnic. Scheduled for noon on Saturday, Aug. 4, in Arcade Park, the event serves as an ideal opportunity to reminisce with family and friends and to reconnect with your family’s history.

Due to Pullman’s admirable preservation efforts, the area has been largely unchanged since its original construction in the 1880s. Langley Avenue has always been home to many apartment buildings and has seen tenants come and go. That’s also true of the Hotel Florence, which was a single room occupancy hotel during the 1960s and 1970s.

Many immigrants from Italy made their way to Pullman and began the American chapter of their lives right here in Pullman with a rental apartment on Langley Avenue. This apartment, of course, gave them time to organize their new lives and to save money for their own Pullman home.

Besides the apartments on Langley, there were six blockhouses starting at 111th and Langley. The ravages of time and abandonment led to the leveling of four of the six blockhouses, but the remaining two have been converted into a center for artists, with construction respectful of the original structures.

Interestingly, when it comes to new buildings in historic areas, they cannot be exact replicas of the previous or prevailing structures. As new construction, they would not be true buildings of the past. In accordance with preservation rules, they can be similar but not exact replicas.

When former Pullman residents find out that I’m living at 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., many are transported back in time and can rattle off at least one and sometimes two or three nearby addresses at which they resided in Pullman. They lived in these different houses as they grew up and their families moved up the socio-economic ladder. Many mention the homes they lived in as children and those they bought when they married and began to raise their own families.

Having given tours throughout the years, I’ve heard many visitors mention that an uncle used to work for Pullman or their grandfather did. I remember meeting one family two years in a row. The first year, the son of a former Pullman worker brought his family out for one of my Pullman factory tours. The second year, it was the grandson of the Pullman employee who brought his girlfriend and friends for my tour.

Thousands of people have a connection to Pullman and some of them are connected to you, the readers of Petals from Roseland. The point is, there’s no time like the present to come down to Pullman and make it a family history day. The Pullman Civic Organization and the National Park Service visitor’s center will be open during the picnic, with exhibits and a film for viewing, with maps available for self-guided walking tours of Pullman.

22nd Annual Pullman Picnic T-shirt

The event always has food and drink for purchase. If you aren’t sure of what to bring, just bring yourself and your friends and family and purchase what you’d like. Collector t-shirts sold by picnic sponsors are a must-have.

Arcade Park is the center of the activities, with attendees settin up canopies, tables, chairs, food and drink for their friends and family. Their whole premise is to meet as many people they know from their Pullman-Roseland- Kensington days. There are many people who stop by just to check out the event and end up staying till the picnic is over later in the evening. I’d say the chances of running into someone from your past are about 8 to 1.

Now that Pullman has been designated as The Pullman National Monument, you will also be seeing a National Park Service ranger or two walking around. The change in status means that there will be a great number of positive improvements in Pullman’s future. Construction plans will be implemented within the next year for the old Clock Tower Administrative Building, which is the actual physical national monument. Tour guides will be available to explain the forthcoming changes at an exhibit in the visitor’s Center, which will also have memorabilia available for purchase.

For the sake of your family history, I hope you will make the time to come out and enjoy the day in Pullman at one of the most anticipated events of the year, the 22nd Annual Pullman Reunion Picnic.

Contact me at 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756; or; or visit Roseland Roundtable on Facebook.


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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One comment

  1. You do a great service CJ to our beloved Pullman.
    Jack and Delores Cappozzo

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