As I write this column my bags are packed and I’m heading out with the Veneti nel Mondo to visit the east side of Italy. I will also have the opportunity to visit the streets my parents walked when I go to Mezzaselva di Roana above Bassano Del Grappa. I will, of course, be reporting on my visit in future columns and might also share a few photos. I know I will have a great time meeting my cousins Flavia Mazzolini and her daughter Elena Migliorini when I visit Lago di Como and Lago Maggiore. My December and January column will be filled with references to the places I will be visiting. Those who have been to Italy tell me that, unlike trip my son and I made to Rome in 2009, this trip will have more beauty than ruins — a difference I look forward to.
This past summer has been tremendously busy in Pullman and the Pullman National Monument. For starters we had the ongoing neighborhood tours presented by the Historic Pullman Foundation and the Factory Tours presented by the Pullman State Historic Site. On average, Pullman now has ten to thirty visitors per day and many bus tours that come specifically to view our historic neighborhood and the Pullman National Monument.
Work continues on the space formerly known as Bob’s Sugar Bowl to reinvent it into the Pullman Café coffee shop. It was hoped that the café would have been opened for the 42nd Annual Pullman House Tour Weekend but the city — as much as they touted us becoming a ‘national treasure’ hasn’t come through with the approved permits as of this writing. I wish the owners all the best in getting their city approvals. The residents of Pullman are awaiting the opening of this café with a keen interest in doing their part as patrons to support the business and make it a viable destination and gathering place.
This past October the 42nd Annual Pullman House Tour took place. A larger than usual crowd was expected due to Pullman’s National Monument status. Going by last year’s increase of 47% over the previous year — it had to be a practically overwhelming number of visitors. I’ll be reporting on the actual figures once the committee has calculated all the information available.
The 7th Annual Friends of Pullman Reunion Picnic was another successful event that drew more people than ever to Pullman. This event was attended by former residents of the Roseland / Pullman / Kensington communities. In other words, this wasn’t an event that was put on for the enjoyment of visitors to the Pullman National Monument but for all those who are residents of, or have been residents of our communities. Each year this event does more to bring back former residents that any other event that is held in Pullman. A big thank you goes out to those who put the time and effort into making this event a success. Among those residents are: Ed De Leon, Kelly Starcevich, and Charles Livingstone and the very supportive and helpful crew of volunteers that work so diligently every year.
There were a couple of block parties held during the summer that got the neighbors out to meet each other. Interestingly, I met the son-in-law of ‘Billie’ the former manager of the Hotel Florence’s Pullman Brunch. He mentioned that ‘Billie’ still lives in the neighborhood and even owns a number of properties in Pullman including the property behind my home. I had no idea who she was until I spotted a photo of her with Peggy Avignon and other waitresses outside of the Hotel Florence.
This summer also brought a number of visitors to Pullman residents such as Rita Aiello Martiniello and Maria Aiello Costabile from Australia who were visiting with Julia Savaglio and her daughters Anna and Maria. Besides my retirement in May, Beverly Carli finally, third time’s the charm, actually retired and, after celebrating with our St. Anthony 8:30 Mass Coffee Club, is looking forward to relaxing full-time by keeping busy. Ana and Denis Magnabosco, daughter-in-law and son of Gina and Adriano Magnabosco, and their daughter Nadia welcome another international exchange student into their home. Charlotte from France will be staying with them for a year as she completes her high school studies with Nadia.
Labor Day is a major event in Pullman due to the fact that the Pullman Strike of 1894 caused the president to sign a bill creating a national day on the country’s labor force. Pullman becomes a national center for Labor Organizers on Labor Day and there are festivities and presentations by national labor leaders at the Pullman Factory Site.
Labor Day is also the day that Paul Petratis, who along with Dan Bovino and myself founded the Roseland Roundtable group, presents his “Labor Day Love-In.” This event is another event that specifically beckons to those who grew up in the Roseland/Pullman/Kensington communities. This year there were more people in attendance and they gathered in closer to the south end of the Hotel Florence where the “Roseland Band” played. The music of the 60’s filled the air as everyone joined in the fun and Marco Mundo sang us back in time. The Roseland Band has played together since the 60’s and they are a reassuring sight to see at the many events they are selected to play.
One last Labor Day event that brings a unique group of people to Pullman is the Labor Day Bike Ride. It is an event that Patty Oyervides puts together with her husband Roy helping in the background and a number of other volunteers appearing at 6:30 a.m. such as Mike Shymanski, Jim Ostarello, Diane Ostarello, Beverly Carli, Mike Meekma, and Carl Mercherson. We put up tents and set-up tables and chairs and posted signs as necessary to handle the largest crowd of bicyclists ever. Sixty-five bicyclists from around the city and suburbs arrived in Pullman between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. to take part in the thirty mile bike ride along Lake Michigan.
As I said in the beginning, this summer has been a real benchmark for Pullman insofar as events and visitors. I believe it is the turning point for the popularity of Pullman and for its future. This would be a great time to visit Pullman because in the next three to five years Pullman will exist as part of a ‘national’ program as the Pullman National Monument of the National Park Service. As a part of a ‘national’ historic treasure there will be many visitors to the area but, in the majority, they will be from across the nation rather than visitors returning to their roots.
Contact me at 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756; or