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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 my way from current events back as cheating of some sort — judge not, lest ye be judged!

In early November, at what has become an anticipated event, Pullman held its Annual Veteran’s Day memorial ceremony in the auditorium of the Pullman Elementary School. The event began with a presentation of the Colors by Carver Military Academy ROTC. The ceremony honors those Pullman residents whose lives have been sacrificed in battles throughout all wars and always ends with a solemn reading of those resident’s names at the veteran’s monument outside of the school.

Following Facebook keeps me up-to-date on many Pullman happenings and a recent post put me in a very Thanksgiving mood. The PullmanArts project on Langley Avenue will be having its groundbreaking in the early spring. That brings us closer to one of my dreams of seeing a nationally recognized Annual Pullman Art Fair held throughout Pullman and centered in Arcade Park.

On Dec. 10, several festively decorated homes were on display for the annual Pullman Candlelight House Tour. The successful event included a holiday buffet, a silent auction, and entertainment by the locally famous Traverso Singers. The proceeds of this event benefit the Historic Pullman Foundation.

If you haven’t visited family or friends in Pullman since October, come on down for a visit and come hungry. There’s a new Gateway Retail Center, built by Raffin Construction Company, on 111th Street directly across from the police station. The four-store shopping strip mall is one of Chicago Neighborhood Initiative’s projects in conjunction with a number of partners including the City of Chicago.

On Oct. 23, the Pullman/Roseland community was invited to attend the grand opening of the first of four businesses that will soon be operating in the location. The Pullman Potbelly has been busy since that first day. offering opportunities to enjoy Potbelly Perks through their online app and pre-ordering programs. One of the advantages of this Potbelly is that it has a drive-thru. It has been my experience that most orders are speedily and efficiently completed. No matter the size of the lunchtime crowd, and I’ve seen it stretch to the door, the wait is only 10 to 15 minutes maximum to receive a fresh-made, toasty sandwich.

Two of the other spaces are being built out as you read this. One will be occupied by Star Dry Cleaners, which already has two locations in the city. The other will be occupied by the well-known Morgan Park specialty bakery Laine’s Bake Shop. Laine’s has held a number of “pop-up” instant shops at its future location while build-out work continues. There is space allotted for another building to house four retail stores in the same area.

Oct. 7 and 8 saw the successful 44th Annual Pullman House Tour, with over 2.500 visitors. Once again, Mother Nature gifted Pullman with an unseasonably warm weekend to heighten the festivities. There wer live music performances, neighborhood tours, a classic car show, a Corvette Club show, factory site tours, and food and drink for sale. Fortunate attendees were also able to tour six civic buildings, including the Greenstone Church. Longtime Pullman resident and former Pullman Palace Car Co. employee Al Quiroz once again displayed the company memorabilia he was able to rescue as the Pullman Company officially closed its doors in the late 1990s. Al was gracious enough to be on hand on both Saturday and Sunday to answer questions from many of the tour attendees, some also former employees, regarding Al’s artifacts at the Pullman Civic Center on east 113th Street.

Annual events are always anticipated with great enthusiasm by former Pullmanites and Roselandites. Among them is the down-to-earth good time event Labor Day Love-in Music Fest. The same guys who played Roseland’s high school dances and local gigs come out and perform one more time for nostalgia’s sake — They’ve still got it going on.

The first weekend in August is when the Pullman Family Reunion Picnic takes place with great support by many neighborhood residents. Present day Pullmanites, with arms open wide, welcome all former area residents, who spend the day catching up with old friends. Every year, you hear exclamations of “Hey!” “Holy cow!” “What’s been happening?” “I haven’t seen you in years!”

Throughout the year, tours can be taken of Pullman — both the town and the factory site — with schedules available through the Pullman National Monument Visitor Center. Everyone is free to take self-guided walking tours throughout the neighborhood year around. In the coming years there will be a number of visible changes in Pullman.

The National Park Service has selected an architectural firm to design and commence the project of converting the Clock Tower administration building. The building and grounds will be transformed into a beautifully landscaped office, exhibit, auditorium, classroom and information center.

Many of these events take place annually and offer proof of Pullman’s vibrancy and the commitment of the community The PullmanArts Langley Avenue project shows the community as a whole working toward maintaining a relatable future, since Pullman is no longer in the railroad business. Old worn-out questions like “Is it a mixed neighborhood?” “Is Pullman safe?” and “Where do you shop?” no longer apply to today’s Pullman.

Through an outstanding relationship with the National Park Service, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, and the City of Chicago, Pullman looks forward to a year with a great number of positive happenings that will continue to show it is alive, thriving, and vibrant.

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.