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Where have all the florists gone?

Floristin mit Blumen in Blumenladen

Stop in any chain grocery or “super” store, and among the many departments to choose from you’ll always find a “killer” in-store flower shop. Cute little bouquets with sprigs of green and sometimes even baby’s breath are often available. Maybe not too many flowers in the bouquet, but just enough to warrant the $5.99 price tag. Of course, you have the option of buying the $9.99 bouquet with a few more flowers and a wider array of colors. These are your floral options today, but what about the traditional options that these options have “killed” off?”

Before there were “floral departments” we had actual florists who really knew about the flowers they sold. They gained their knowledge through years of experience not from an information card or from a department manual. The Roseland that we all love and miss had many florists, not just floral options.

The following is a list of the Roseland Florists that I was able to construct from Roseland address lists: Bernard Arrivio Florist, Ambassador Floral, C. Erickson Florist, Graystone Florist, Gries Floral, Richard’s Floral Shop, Mat Summers Flower Store and J. Zschau Flower Shop. I’m sure that just the names of these businesses will bring back memories of myriad special occasions.

To us — back in the day — flowers were for special occasions. Dates like prom or homecoming definitely had unwritten floral requirements. Mom’s birthday, maybe, but Mother’s Day, definitely. Table centerpiece arrangements were only for those who were into the June Cleaver perfect Mom and hostess lifestyle. Birth and death were definite floral occasions and maybe a hospital stay would merit a get-well bouquet.

To be honest, though, most of the above was first- or second-generation stuff. If you had immigrant parents … “What! You crazy to spend money on flowers. They die and then they go in the garbage! You buy a plant and it lives a long time.” However, the later generations knew that no girl would ever wear a plant to the prom!

When we got to that “flowering” stage — figuratively and literally — we knew all we had to do was walk into the same flower shop our older siblings or friends had gone into. We didn’t know or need to know a thing about flowers. You just told the florist what the occasion was — prom, homecoming or Key Club dinner dance — they showed you your best options.

I remember my St. Willibrord high school prom — only the second time I was buying flowers. Mary Lynn Dreger and I had been going out for a while and lucky for me she had told me about her choice of prom dress. All I had to do was describe it to the florist and “bingo” he put a wrist corsage together that made Mary Lynn very happy, which by extension made me very happy.

Valentine’s Day has always been a rose day — by the dozen — and florists realize this. The sky has always been the limit on Valentine’s Day and really helped florists to survive. Now, instead of a dozen roses they want you to go online and order a dozen or two chocolate covered strawberries — just what every diabetic needs.

Roseland’s florists had a great reputation that their owners built up through generations. They passed those reputations on to the next generation ,whether it was their children, nieces or nephews, or grandchildren. That passing of the mantle from one generation to the next is what made Roseland the home to our hearts that it has always been.

THE PULLMAN NATIONAL MONUMENT celebrated its one-year birthday in February. Other than the presence of the National Park Rangers at the Visitor’s Center, it might appear that nothing is happening in Pullman. However, during this “Phase 1” of the National Monument, rest assured that there is much work being done.

The original $8 million in public seed funds is being put to good use. When I lead tours of Pullman past the site, I ask participants to look around and observe the weeds and vacant lots. Then I tell them that any national park they’ve seen definitely does not include weeds in the landscaping and the same will be true for Pullman once the future plans are implemented.

The plans for Pullman National Monument include a plaza, lake or fountain at the front of the landscaped area in front of the Administration Building, which is the physical Pullman National Monument on Cottage Grove. The burned-out shells of factory buildings on 111th Street are being re-imagined into an indoor railway museum displaying a rail yard with tracks and train cars.

We’re all familiar with the 10-story US Bank building (formerly the Pullman Bank building) at 111th and Doty Avenue. The area directly west of this building will be the sight of a plaza with a Chipotle Restaurant and a Potbelly’s. It’s been reported that if a third restaurant were to open a location in that plaza, a major hotel chain would consider building at that sight. The hotel would be a great fit within the Pullman National Monument Park boundaries as an accommodations option for the many national and international visitors expected to visit the Pullman National Monument on an annual basis.

PULLMANARTS LOFT SPACES were given a major boost on George Pullman’s 185th birthday on March 3. The Chicago Landmarks Zoning Committee approved plans for the building of a low-rent subsidized 38-unit live/work space specifically for artists on the east side of 111th-112th block of Langley. The building will provide space for artists to create works within a community in which they live, and then display exhibit them in a gallery. The space will also allow for classes and a performance area with availability for community use. The building will be created by rehabbing and repurposing the two end-block buildings and constructing three new buildings in between. The work is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2018.

THE GEORGE PULLMAN ONE-MAN SHOW that I present to community organizations was very well received at the Orland Park Public Library, where I performed on George Pullman’s 185th birthday. There were about 100 people in attendance, including visitors from Benton Harbor, Mich., and Lowell Ind. I was fortunate to be accompanied by National Park Ranger Chris Stein, on loan from St. Croix, Minn., who was able to give his associates, —Sue Bennett, managing ranger, and Paul Labovitz, acting superintendent of the Pullman National Monument — a direct report on the historical value and reception of my presentation.

In addition to a good number of resident from Orland Park and surrounding communities, audience members included representative of Spaghetti-Os, the Roseland Roundtable, the Veneti nel Mondo Circolo Chicago, St. Anthony’s and the Pullman community. The comments afterward were positive, so it seems I’m on the right path with my avocation as an actor and Pullman historian spreading the word about the utopian town of Pullman that George M. Pullman envisioned and built, and the Pullman National Monument of the National Park Service.

THE VENETI NEL MONDO celebrated Carnevale at Casa Italia’s Chandelier Room, with about 80 members in attendance. I was very fortunate to once again be seated at a table of lively guests. I always enjoy good company with smiling faces and good humor. My tablemates — Geno and Tina Arena; Salvo and Sharon Arena; Sylvia Zazzeron; and Carla, Jim and Russ De Young — made a good afternoon great.

The SPAGHETTI-OS re still going strong in its 15th year. It was five years ago when Bonny and George Sandona hosted about 485 Roselandite guests at the Orland Chateau for Spaghetti-Os 10th anniversary. Recently, Spaghetti-O Mit LaCien, who had sent a copy of her children’s book to Prince William and Princess Kate for their children, shared with me a handwritten note of thanks she’d received from the royals. Proving that the creative apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, there was a feature article in the Orland Park Prairie newspaper about George and Mit’s son Mark, an artist who specializes in scenes of Orland Park’s rustic buildings throughout the years.

THE PULLMAN ANNUAL GARDEN TOUR will be taking place the last Saturday in June. Last year, a great number of people took part in the neighborhood garden tour. Pullman residents exceeded expectations through their extensive efforts to beautify their yards and landscape their properties.

My contribution to May flowers is set for the end of June. I was so inspired that I’ve committed to creating a novelty garden to anchor the south end of Pullman’s Garden Tour. I’m hoping that the tulips I purchased at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on our way back from Italy will still be in bloom by that last Saturday in June. We’ll just have to wait and see and trust in the flower gods.

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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