Interviewer: CJ, you have been writing Petals from Roseland for three years now — happy anniversary, by the way — and based on the 36 columns or so that you’ve written, what have you learned? (Now, I can put down the mirror and answer the question.)
Three years ago, when I began writing this column, my background consisted of my having been born and brought up in Roseland, which I left in 1970. Since Fra Noi editor Paul Basile selected me to write the column, I have attended monthly dinners, community breakfasts, club meetings, picnics, reunions, pizza gatherings, church festivals, and become an active parishioner of St. Anthony’s, all having to do with Roseland. In addition, along with Dan Bovino and Paul Petraitis, I began the Roseland Roundtable, which centers on the Facebook page of that name. As of this writing, we have 3,121 friends and over 1,500 photos.
Taking part in all of these functions has expanded my Roseland historical background and love for all things Roseland. Above all, my love for all Roselandites has grown because I’ve come to empathize with the loss over the future we could have had in a community so ideal that others could only dream of it. Over the years, I’ve considered this issue of us Roselandites: our prejudices, our levels of tolerance, our kindnesses, our giving hearts, and our willingness to stand up for others. I’ve come to realize that it is our pain over the loss of our Roseland that moves us.
We grew up expecting Roseland to always be there and then, as full maturity approached with the onset of creating our own families, our own niche in Roseland, our own offspring living the childhood we had lived with their personal touches, it was all gone. That is the heart of the Roselandites I’ve come to know of these past few years.
Among other things I’ve learned is that the people we remember most are centered on our schooling: everyone from our classmates, some of whom we know closely to this day, to those that had the most impact in our lives — our teachers. Grade school years must have been pretty formative because those are the teachers I’ve heard time and again spoken of with an enduring love and admiration — even by heavily tattooed Harley types. Teachers do leave an impression.
I’ve learned by seeing 80 year olds perk up when someone says, “I heard Don say that when you were in grade school he had a crush on you.” I’ve learned that 10 year olds can form lifelong friendships that last through teen crushes, service in the armed forces, marriage to others and widowhood only to find each other and end their lives as they began — together.
Do you remember that crabby old guy behind the counter when you were 7 (and he was old at 47)? I’ve learned he’s as crabby as he ever was except he’s learned to tone it down and keep it in check because he’s no longer the boss behind the counter and has actually gotten old.
With the Roseland Roundtable Page on Facebook, we three founding Roselandites attempted to forge ahead with the Roseland Rooms Museum, a place to exhibit the memorabilia Roselandites offered us. I’ve learned that if you have no control over when something will take place you let it go and time will tell. You can take comfort in knowing you’ve done your best.
Thoughts of moving to Pullman have occasionally entered my mind because I am always “out south.” I have to bear in mind that the vital section of Pullman — 111th to 115th and Cottage Grove east to Langley Avenue — is divided by discordant organizations that make things difficult, at best. I’ve learned that if Pullman is to survive, there needs to be a united mission with a unified purpose and one Pullman umbrella organization with an ombudsman to mediate disputes to resolution. The residents of Pullman who I’ve met are extremely proud of their community and their faith and hope should not be waylaid.
On the Roseland Roundtable Facebook Page, one will only find old photos because ‘current’ Roseland isn’t the Roseland of our memories. I’ve learned that photos and comments of current Roseland only stir up misplaced feelings. I say ‘misplaced’ because to continue to speak or exhibit those feelings only serves to cloud over the beauty of the Roseland we all know and love and hold dear in our hearts. That was not characteristic of the Roseland we grew up in and has no place in the Roseland of our hearts.
NOTE E NOTIZIE
On Memorial Day of this past May, I visited Mario Avignone at the Manteno Veterans Home. I’m very happy to report that Mario is in good health for a 93 year old. I spoke with Mario for about 20 minutes before he asked me what time it was. When I told him it was 5 p.m., he said, “Thanks for coming by. It’s dinnertime. I’ve got to go eat. Good-bye.” And with that, I wheeled him to his place in the dining room and left. As you can see, Mario is doing fine and retains his sense of humor.
At $50 a pop, tickets are going fast for the All Roseland/All Ages Reunion Dinner Dance at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13. This will likely be the only All Roseland/All Ages Reunion, so don’t miss this rare opportunity. My suggestion is to contact 10 old friends, be they classmates, neighbors or relatives, and buy a table. Contact Bonny Sandona at 773-646-1415. There will be nametags! (We’re aware we’ve all changed over the years, no matter how much we say we haven’t.)
On Oct. 8, a St. Anthony’s Alumni Dinner Dance will take place in Lansing at the Serbian Social Center, 18550 S. Stony Island, $60, beginning with cocktails (open bar) at 6 p.m. Call the rectory at 773-468-1200 as soon as you read this for information.