Summer sweats and sweets

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It’s that time of year to focus on summer fun. When we think back to our younger days, a lot of places come to mind. On a hot sweaty day, some Roselandites liked to swim outside at Palmer Park while others waited in line to get into the second floor pool with the overhead doors at West Pullman Park or to swim indoors at the “Pump. And for the sports-minded kids, there was always Gately’s Stadium or the Roseland Little League Fields, not to mention any open lot or school playground with an “X” in the middle of a rectangle marked on an adjacent brick wall.

One of the more casual and enjoyable activities many Roseland kids enjoyed was attending one of the theaters with a summer pass program. In association with many of the Roseland merchants, the Chamber of Commerce teamed up with the local theater to sponsor free movies throughout the entire summer. All you had to do was shop at the right store or walk right in and ask for a pass or two. If you worked it right, you could see movies once a week throughout your summer vacation for free.

Nighttime in Roseland would commence once the streetlights came one. All night long during the summer months, cars would cruise “The Ave” (Michigan Avenue) looking for attention from whoever was willing to give it. Up and down from one end to the other … unless it had, by some miracle of chance, turned into a date night!

There were two or three top date spots for those who had cars and those were the Halsted Drive-in, Raceway Park and Bachelor’s Grove. OK. I guess I have to qualify that the last place I mentioned generally came after the preceding two places, and if it wasn’t preceded by those two, there could be trouble, so to speak, “down the road.”

For the younger crowed, there were hangouts that offered sweets such as penny candy counters, Green River pop, pie or a grill with a greasy burger (well-loved). Some of the places I can recall were Pat & Matt’s on Kensington along with The Penguin. Both of these fine establishments served the St. Anthony crowd, along with Spigalon’s and, in the early days, the Midwest Grocer, where the new St. Anthony’s was built. Up on “The Ave,” the two places I can recall were the Olympic Grill and Tony’s Restaurant, both near 111th.

One of the best, biggest, most fun, most family oriented and yet all-around date spots, where you could spend all your money and eat, eat, eat was the St. Anthony’s Carnival. Known as one of the best South Side carnivals, it reigned as the biggest fundraiser of the year for St. Anthony’s, and that’s saying a lot because St. Anthony’s did a lot of fundraising throughout the year.

Just as we age and change, so has Roseland and its surrounding neighborhoods. Try as we might, no one has discovered the magic that will turn back the clock. However, what we do have are some hardworking volunteers and workers that strive to make the Pullman summer season a season to remember today.

Ed Deleon and Kelly Starcevich formed a volunteer committee and initiated the Friends of Pullman Family Reunion as a way to bring back a touch of the good old Pullman Picnic. It has been through their efforts these past nine years that the picnic has grown and thrive, attracting increasing numbers of former residents of the Pullman, Roseland and Kensington.

Ed and Kelly have decided to bow out after nine successful years, handing the reins over to fellow lead committee member Chuck Livingstone. Of course, Chuck won’t stand alone as many of the committee members are staying on to assist in bringing together the 10th Annual Friends of Pullman Family Picnic.

This picnic takes place annually on the first Saturday in August in Pullman’s Arcade Park. The landscape of the park is used as the lovely backdrop for the many tables and chairs that visitors set up for friends and family that stop by to visit. Food and beverages are always available to purchase, with the profits going to cover expenses and to support next year’s event. This is a great benefit for those who aren’t sure what to bring — just bringing themselves will work fine. There are also games for the kids, contests and music, and the event ends with a photo of all of the attendees in front of Arcade Park.

For those who just want to make a casual visit to the Pullman neighborhood, you are welcome! The Shared Historic Pullman Foundation and Pullman National Monument Visitor’s Center (773- 785-8901) is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Maps for self-guided walking tour are available. with numbered highlights that identify buildings featured in a 20-minute informative film. Guided tours are also available at the Visitor’s Center.

The State of Illinois Pullman Factory Site (773-660-241) offers free tours at 11:30 a.m. that start at the 111th Street front gate to the factory site. This is a one-hour guided tour with an informative and educational lecture on the original factory. The lecture includes information on future plans for the factory site.

The Pullman National Monument Park staff, volunteers and partners from the Historic Pullman Foundation are on hand to answer questions and provide suggestions on how to enjoy your visit to the monument.

Speaking of St. Anthony’s, mark June 10 on your calendar and please plan to attend the annual Feast of St. Anthony. Years of providing food, entertainment, prizes, and lost of kind-friendly activities ave created an event pleasing to everyone. The food selection is outstanding and is as diverse as the parishioners. The event offers a great opportunity for nostalgia, meaning and sharing. Festivities start at noon and go until 6 p.m. with many attendees making it a point to attend the one Mass that will be offered that day, at 10 a.m. I and my family are always in attendance at this event and stay for hours, visiting with former parishioners, new parishioners and old friends we haven’t seen for years. I suggest you hop on the St. Anthony nostalgia train before it leaves the station. I’ll be looking for you!

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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