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Winter brings out the neighbor in us

“Winter’s on the horizon, and as true Chicagoans, we may complain about the weather, but we handle it like troopers. We realize that resistance is futile. We all have friends who have become “snowbirds,” escaping to Florida annually and, this year, straight into the arms of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian! By staying in Chicago, we deal with life as we always have. And yet, we’ve never had to rebuild or relocate. That being said, winter can be a great time for recalling the way we’ve dealt with our major storms — the Chicago way

I recall being home on leave before heading to Vietnam in January of 1967. I’ve got a photo of me and my girlfriend at the time, Phoebe Bakkers, daughter of Roseland Bakkers Pharmacy’s Elves Bakkers, standing in front of our house at 15 E. 116th Street. The snow looks to be about 4’-5’ high all round us. A pretty good reminder of how bad it can get.

Since moving to Pullman seven years ago, winters seem to have been on the whole more genteel than harsh. However, each winter seems to bring a few days where we get piles of snow to deal with as most Chicagoans still have to commute to work through whatever weather we’re presented with.

In Pullman, the experiences of many residents throughout the years have always resulted in mixed emotions. Pullman residents are often referred to as being part of a big family and this is very true.

Pullman’s residents work together to help each other. That is the key to what life was like in Roseland during our youth. It was the age when neighbors helped neighbors and didn’t let disagreements determine how they reacted when there was a need for help, and Pullman still maintains that tradition.

Yes, Chicago winters have always been a difficult time of year. The only thing that really varies is the length of time Chicagoans have to deal with the harsh moments, which we all handle with the ingrained motto of TTSP — This To Shall Pass — because after all, we’re Chicagoans.

Labor Day in Pullman has become the major celebration of the year for the Pullman National Monument. Various national, state, and local labor organizations take part in the celebration on the grounds of Pullman’s Hotel Florence. This year, the hotel windows were available for everyone to look through and admire the great restoration job that has been done on the first floor floors. There is one room that has yet to be completed and hopefully that day will come soon. It is hoped that once restoration of the first floor is complete, the State of Illinois will open Pullman’s Hotel Florence for visitors to walk through and admire the its beautiful restoration.

For everyone’s enjoyment, music was provided at the Pullman bandstand next to the Visitor’s Center, and a number of canopies were set up with information on the Illinois Labor Society, National Park Services, Pullman National Monument and Pullman House Project. In addition, the Pullman Historic Foundation Visitor’s Center was open. There was even a tourist train provided by the CNI Railroad, which took children and adults on a short ride down to the Market Hall Circle and back to the festivities in Arcade Park.

The National Park Rangers continued their great work of leading tourists through Pullman and providing insights and information. For those who grew up in Pullman and the surrounding areas, it would be a good idea to take one of those ranger-led Pullman National Monument tours. You might know everything about the Pullman neighborhood you grew up in, but I can guarantee you that you do not know all of the historical facts that the Pullman Rangers have to know. I’ve been a Pullman tour guide for years, and just as I have given out information the ranger tour guides weren’t aware of, they’ve given out information I wasn’t aware of. As a matter of how we live our lives, we should always leave open the door to learning more.

Hotel Florence Restaurant & Museum isn’t something we’re going to see in the near future, however, as I was looking for some information for this article I came across a 1997 brochure with that title. I’m just going to list the 1997 events: Feb. 8 Valentine Victorian Dance; April 12 Roaring Twenties Gala; May 17 Friends ‘97 Fund Raiser; June 21 Murder Mystery Victorian Dinner; July 21 Prairie Avenue Tour; July 27 2nd Annual HPF Open; Sept 14 Illinois Railroad Museum Outing; Sept 27 Western Hoe Down; Oct 19 George M. Pullman Celebration; December 5 Christmas Victorian Dinner; December 6 Christmas Victorian Dinner; December 13 Candlelight House Tour & Dinner; and December 31 New Year’s Eva Gala.

The meals that were served at the hotel might no longer be on any Pullman menu, but a number of the events still take place such as the Garden Walk, the Annual October House Tour and Pullman Walking Tours.

Now, go get ready for Christmas and the stories about my September-October trip to Italy. Oh, and while you’re at it could you please submit some Roseland winter stories to me.

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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