During this past holiday season I kept seeing ads and hearing stories about the holiday traditions that people maintain. Everything from when to put up the tree to how to decorate it were enthusiastically debated, along with what to serve on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. All this discussion got me to thinking about Roseland and the traditions its residents maintained. I’m sure one thing we can all agree on is that the good people of Roseland were all traditionalists.
I easily recall the annual tradition of the Gately’s Peoples Store sponsoring the Michigan Avenue Christmas parade. I remember that they used to throw candy to the kids from the floats as they went by. I also remember that never once did I manage to catch or pick-up one of those pieces of candy. That was okay with me because I maintained a tradition of my own by collecting for the delivery of the South End Reporter just before Christmas to be sure I was knocking on people’s doors when they were in a more generous mood.
At St. Anthony of Padua Church on Kensington, one tradition that I fondly remember was the May Crowning. We celebrated the month of May by honoring Jesus’ Mother Mary with a procession, with all the students in attendance and dressed up, a special floral May Pole, and a May Court consisting of some chosen girls to be attendance to one special young lady chosen to actually place a floral crown on Mary.
As summer approached, the entire children’s contingent of Roselandites looked forward to a super parade: The Roseland Little League parade. The parade always assembled at 115th and Michigan in the Roseland Plaza where there was plenty of room for all of the Little Leaguers and the managers and coaches and a couple of floats.
The parade would head south up Michigan Avenue past Bob’s Candy Store and Cortese’s Market on 116th and continue on past Spiller’s Shell and Wanda’s Novelties. There was always a big to do at about 118th and Michigan because that was where the Homestore was located and they always sponsored a team.
As a matter of fact, there were a number of Roseland merchants that sponsored Roseland Little League teams and some of them I recall are Gentile Pharmacy, Roseland Buick, and Le Rose Coal & Oil. There are many more that I can’t recall but I do recall that the parade stretched on forever and lasted a couple of hours as it made its way up the ‘Ave’ as Michigan Avenue was known.
The parade ended at the Roseland Little League Fields that took up the block from 124th to 125th and Michigan. That would signal the start of the official introduction of the teams followed by the first games of the season. I’m pretty sure it was the 1967 North Roseland Little League team that went to the Little League World Series but came up short–a thrilling time nonetheless.
Another summer tradition was the opening of the parks with swimming pools. It was an event that every kid in Roseland looked forward to, not to mention the challenge to see how deep or which hi-board you could go off of. The main pools were the outdoor one at Palmer Park and the indoor one at West Pullman Park.
I can recall joining the gazillion other kids as we stood in line with our towels hanging around our necks or rolled up as we waited for our turn to be counted in. The opening and closing days are among the best of my memories. Of course, I don’t remember going all the other times because everyone went swimming to keep cool and be cool. This was the time when air conditioners were still a big expense and Elvis and Johnny Rivers were about to be pushed aside for Beatlemania.
At the end of summer came the most dreaded tradition–but a somewhat welcomed one: back to school! It wouldn’t have been something to look forward to except for the fact that you got to see friends you hadn’t seen all summer. You also got to meet new people, and depending on your grade maybe experience a totally different school environment.
Roseland had plenty of sports organizations and family organizations through churches or clubs and those groups had their own traditions. Among those were annual family picnics, church carnivals, sport’s recognition dinners, end of season bowling trophy award dinners and many others that I’m not aware of.
Roseland and traditions go hand in hand as we always had an event going on or an outing or a dinner or better yet a carnival. Roseland traditions now live on in our memory but many of us made it a point to create traditions within our own families and with our own children because we were born to respect and honor tradition as a meaningful heartfelt sentiment to pass on from generation to generation–just as the gift of tradition we received from our parents.