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Petals From Roseland

Walking in our parents’ footsteps

As we recount the passing days of winter and embark upon a new season of “What’s new?” it’s time to look forward to that changeling of seasons known as spring. Winter tapers off and we begin to relax as our wardrobe evolves from protective clothing to a more welcoming style. (No real Chicagoan is concerned about style during the cold months when comfort and warmth is the goal!) I invite you to walk in the footsteps of your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends — and your youth. This is the perfect time of year to come visit ...

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Cherish is the word we use to describe

Every year when February rolls around, memories of Cupid, Valentine cards, childhood memories, loves lost and won, and family and friends who are no longer with us all come flooding back. Back in 1966, the group The Association came out with the song “Cherish” and in my humble opinion that word has never been given its due. Say it a few times slowly, deliberately, until you feel it. That’s the feeling we Roselandites get when we think of our formative years. Not only do we cherish each and every one of those years, but also each and every memory we ...

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A look back at a busy 2017 in Pullman

As one year passes and another approaches, it’s once again time for a “look see” at what has gone by. When I mentioned the topic to someone, I was told “Oh, nothing has happened during this past year.” Of course, to my way of thinking that definitely presented a challenge. So, then, I ask that you bear with me as I roll through the aging Rolodex of my mind. Occasionally, you might find me stuck on one Rolodex card and having a tough time getting to the next topic — but, I’ll turn the card eventually! Some may consider working ...

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A Merry ‘Grustoli’ Christmas!

  Italian traditions don’t come and go. That’s why they’re traditions, and one way or the other, we figure out how to preserve them and pass them along to the next generation. When my mom passed away, she took her “grustoli” recipe with her — almost! My wife at that time, the former Marilyn Chao of Roseland’s Tea Garden Chinese Restaurant family (Fenger High class of January 1967), took the time to work with my mother, Angelina, as she baked a batch, and wrote down a complete recipe. My family and many others in Roseland know this traditional Italian treat as “grustoli,” though it’s ...

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The many faces of Thanksgiving

What comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving Day? The Thanksgiving celebrations of our youth will yield one answer. And if you’re talking about Thanksgiving today, the answer will be completely different. And what about your favorite Thanksgiving memory? The truth is that our view of Thanksgiving has most likely changed over time as we have been exposed to a variety of celebrations. My family would gather at my parent’s home every Sunday for the family lunch meal. Ma — God knows there’s no way I’d be calling her “Mom,” that was for the American kids — would put ...

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Due famiglie e la nostra famiglia

I’ve been wanting to write about families for quite a while now, and everything finally came together recently when I took part in a few family events. Family is an important part of recognizing who we are from the perspective of where we came from. The families I’ve been fortunate to spend time with have experienced life in many different ways. Their stories are varied and interesting but the shared common thread of famiglia is all-important to their present day lives, their perspectives on their past and their future as carried forward by their offspring. A generous invitation was extended ...

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Looking forward while glancing back

If only I had a dollar for every time someone said, “I wish we had our Roseland back,” I’d be a wealthy man. It should come as no surprise to Roselandites, but whenever I talk to Italian Americans from Taylor Street, Bridgeport, Melrose Park or Elmwood Park, the sentiment is the same: “I wish we had (insert neighborhood or town) back.” I don’t know if that’s any comfort, but it proves that change is unavoidable no matter where we’ve come from. “But, CJ, if the neighborhood hadn’t changed, it’d be the same.” Tell that to the Italian Americans who used ...

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The best uses of summer

As summer winds down, we recall the events we’ve attended throughout the season. We’ve celebrated everything from baptisms, communions and confirmations to graduations and class reunions to picnics with family, friends and neighbors. All of these events constitute a “best use of summer” kind of life. We Midwesterners so look forward to summertime that you’re hard-pressed to find us at home. This month’s column salutes these best-use-of-summer events and the togetherness and camaraderie they bring. St. Anthony’s always signals the start of summer with its communion and confirmation celebrations welcoming new members into the fold of the Catholic Church. Of ...

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Ready. Set. Reunion!

Once again, it’s time to get your nostalgia on! The Annual Pullman Family Reunion Picnic is scheduled for Aug. 5. It’s time to come together to reminisce about Roseland’s good times. It’s another opportunity to visit with old friends that you haven’t seen since our beloved neighborhood went through major changes in the 1960s and 1970s. Throughout this past year I’ve attended six different events and each time I’ve met someone who knew of this column and appreciated the memories they brought forth. I’ve told every single person that they can continue that feeling and catch up with old friends ...

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Summer seasonings

Once again, we’ve survived another winter. I was going to say “Chicago Winter” but we are all aware that this past winter was hardly representative of a true Chicago winter. This leads us to wonder if this summer will just be a summer or will it be a “Chicago Summer”? You know, summer days where the temperature ascends into the 90s. Or where the gods in charge of climate control keep things dry for swimming and athletics. The summers of our youth always began with the Little League Parade down Michigan Avenue (“The Ave”) heading south all the way to ...

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