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A nostalgic ride

Now that the holidays are behind us, we can take a moment to relax and look back at the life we grew up with in Roseland. In preparation for my holiday display, haphazardly carrying 4-foot-by-8-foot sheets of plywood on the top of my Jeep, I decided I would avoid the expressway driving back to Pullman from Menard’s on Sibley Boulevard. That thinking proved to be wise as the wind howled.

Of course, that meant the road home took me through Dolton and Riverdale and over to 130th Street right past the former Acme/Interlake Steel and The Shrimp Boat. It was quite a nostalgic ride as I took the right turn on to Michigan Avenue from 127th Street.

I recalled my brother Augie and I riding our bikes and stopping at Vic’s Fruit Stand to talk to Vic’s daughter. It was the first time we met anyone who raised dogs, let alone Pekingese. After that introduction,n we stopped by whenever we were riding our bikes to 127th.

Two blocks further north on Michigan Avenue, I came to Brayton Street, where the very daring Ron McKay and his sister Kathy lived. I remember that Ronnie got seriously burned playing with his gas-powered model airplane and his sister Kathy slammed a third base line drive into my chest at the Little League Field.

The Roseland Little League Field was another block up at 125th Street and lit oohs like it’s in great shape with new digital signage, built-in bleachers and a solid masonry snack building. For a few years, we lived at 12468 S. Michigan Ave. which was right across from the Little League and the Pumping Station down the hill.

Continuing up Michigan Avenue, I recalled the Polish Home, where my sister had her wedding reception and our family attended many similar events. Does anyone recall Tony DeSantis Emerald Lounge? According to the late Orlando Bettini, who bussed tables there, it was in the Polish Home and was the predecessor of the original Evergreen Park Drury Lane Dinner Theater.

The Home Store at 118th and Michigan was where we got blackening bananas for ten cents a pound. Does anyone recall getting their school uniforms at Home Store? Just south of Home Store was the LaRocca family house.

Betsy was in my class and Luke was a year behind. Luke was a pretty mischievous kid until his world-renowned cardiac specialist father moved the family to Olympia Fields. Caddying at Olympia Fields Country Club one year, I ran into Luke. He was no longer mischievous but he was still down to earth as was his super-sweet mom. Definitely a product of St. Anthony’s!

The rest of Michigan Avenue to Kensington had a mix of businesses like Eleanor’s Dance Studio, Rossi Electric and LaRocca’s Insurance & Real Estate and the Purple Martin Gas Station on 116th and Michigan. At Kensington and Michigan there was the Riverdale Lumber Company and the Illinois Bell Telephone Company on the west and Barwegan’s Clark Gas on the east.

All of these places are stored in our memories. I have a book of great photos that contained no photos. With this column, I’ve attempted to do the same. All of these places are in your heart and in your mind. Just as in the book of great photos, where just the title of the photo brought the photo to mind, so I hope that I’ve brought forth these places of the Roseland we all know and love.

In Memoriam

Joseph Perlotto, 80; lifelong Pullman resident recently of St. John, Ind … Vincent “Shine” F. LaBanco, 89; South Holland resident formerly of Roseland; husband of the late Gloria nee Kingsmill … Angeline Marie Galullo, 88; Orland Park resident formerly of Dolton and Roseland; daughter of the late James Galullo and Antoniette nee Alfano … Edna Cervantes nee Llamas, 105; formerly of Chicago’s Historic Pullman District; wife of the late Frank Cervantes Sr … Eleanor A. Spagnola, nee Ybarra, 78; Orland Park resident formerly of Roseland; wife of the late Bruno Spagnola.

Contact CJ Martello at 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; cjfranoi@yahoo.com; or leave message at 773-701-6756; 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.