Far South Side chroniclers

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It’s been more than eight years since I began writing the Fra Noi Petals from Roseland column, but I haven’t been writing it by myself. Those who came before me such as Mario Avignone also write this column with me. You might well ask, “How do they do that?” The simple answer is through the words they left behind in their writings or in the projects they took part in that have benefited posterity.

Unfortunately, I never received any of Mario Avignone’s files, records or copies of his columns, however I did receive copies of St. Anthony’s Broadcast, which served as an inspiration for Mario. The Rev. Armando Pierini of Villa Scalabrini Old Peoples Home, as it was commonly known, asked Mario to write a column for his new publication, Fra Noi.

Fr. Pierini was acquainted with St. Anthony’s Broadcast that the Rev. Joseph Chiminello had begun with a St. Anthony committee. The 1943 staff consisted of Editor & Co-chairman Mary Mundo; Associate Mary Abbeduto; Spiritual Director the Rev. Joseph Chiminello; Counselor Guy Macina; Co-Chairman Mike Carollo; Service Men’s Committee Yola Chiaro, J. Pell Dalligna, Angeline DeSalvo, Lena Rebeschini, Romia Sartori, and Josephine Tufaro.

St. Anthony’s Broadcast was published from April 1943 to October 1945 as a hometown source of comfort and information for our service men and women serving our country throughout the world during World War II. The publication brought a touch of home and hope and joy along with listings of weddings, baptisms, bowling team announcements and other parish news.

On Nov. 14, 1943, the Chicago Tribune published an article “Church groups send bulletins to service men.” The reprint of which St. Anthony Broadcast’s staff headlined: “Broadcast Crashes World’s Greatest Newspaper.”

One of the more interesting photos that can’t be reprinted due to its low quality appears in the Broadcast and is captioned: Through the BROADCAST, our 3 parishioners, Coxswain J. Polise, Sgt. G. Ceragioli, Lt. S. Petrocelli, and Lt. B. Laird former resident of Roseland knew that, some day, all three would meet … correspondence with the Servicemen’s Committee provided them with addresses and now regular ‘pow-wows’ take place.” (Lt. S. Petrocelli and Lt. B. Laird were female nurses.)

Over the years, the Calumet Index has come through for Roseland, reaching out with its annual yearbook, which they began in 1964. I do not possess this issue in my collection for viewing but Mike Shymanski, president of the Historic Pullman Foundation, has a copy of 1964 First Annual Calumet Index Yearbook. The issues were dedicated to specific topics. The first annual edition had articles covering the history of the Roseland, Pullman, and Kensington neighborhoods.

The first issue also included quotes from citizens who were born in the 1890s or early 1900s. The quotes covered everything from what they’d seen to the trouble they got into with their friends. They also talked about how Roseland looked and what their relatives were doing in Roseland and Pullman’s early days.

The other annual issues I’ve been presented with for safekeeping and exhibiting throughout the years include: 1965 — Roseland organizations and the history of West Pullman; 1966 — Roseland businesses and charitable organizations; 1967 missing; 1968 — dedicated to the men and women who have served our country in the Vietnam conflict; 1969 — excerpted copy of book: Down an Indian Trail in 1849 by Marie K. Rowlands; 1970 — Roseland sports teams in review; 1971 — missing; 1972 — congratulating Roseland’s service organizations and reporting their history; 1973 — missing; 1974 — Roseland history and the Chicago South Chamber of Commerce.

The children and grandchildren of those early Roselandites had the opportunity to fulfill Mr. Pullman’s dream by attending the school he bequeathed to his worker’s children. The Pullman Free School of Manual Training, commonly known as Pullman Tech, existed from the first class in 1913 to the last class in 1950 as a tuition-free school for the Pullman worker’s children. The school closed in 1950 due to diminishing funds for the school, but also due to the fact that the Chicago Public Schools had begun vocational schools that taught classes and subjects similar to the Pullman Tech curriculum.

The graduates of Pullman Tech still keep in touch through the Pullman Tech Alum News, which is published in June and December each year. In October, they held their annual reunion at Silver Lake Country Club, which was attended by many alumni. Anyone who could possibly make it to the reunion was there.

The newsletter starts with a few blurbs and photos and then continues with excerpts from alumni letters. They also have puzzles and quizzes that relate to the good old days and always well-received memory joggers. When notice is given, wedding anniversaries are listed along with an “in memoriam” section with comments on those alum who have passed. The final section, “Milestones,” is always of interest as it is an extended, yet short, article on those Tech Alum who have recently passed.

Finally, we have yours truly and his Petals from Roseland column in Fra Noi, which is a monthly path to nostalgia, current Pullman happenings, and information on or from former residents of Roseland, Kensington and Pullman. The column had its beginnings when Fr. Pierini felt the call to begin a newspaper to keep all the Italian Americans of Chicagoland in touch with each other and their heritage. He solicited numerous community members to establish columns and to act as community contacts to receive information and news from their neighbors, friends and fellow Italian Americans. Mario was one of those early columnists.

That led us to today’s reformatted Fra Noi, with its easy-to-handle and easy-to-mail magazine-style layout. Yes, it is unfortunate that the Petals from Roseland column no longer appears in its entirety, but now I’m not constrained to a specific length. Many of the columns I’ve written have been longer and full of more information and memories than I would have been able to previously include. Change is difficult but if you look in the mirror — what hasn’t changed from 50 years ago?

I’ve reimagined the current Petals from Roseland column into a trip down memory lane, but at the same time, I’ve sought out new and current information. The column generally hits a mark somewhere between returning us to the good old days and keeping everyone informed about the current happenings in Pullman.

Everyone who contacts me with information and honors me with memorabilia and keepsakes from their families, friends, childhood memories, current longstanding friendships, misbehaving and awards, accolades and honors are the authors of your Petals from Roseland and I thank you for your contributions throughout the years.

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