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All Roseland Reunion

For the past 10 months, I haven’t let a column slip by without at least one mention of the All Roseland Reunion and Dinner Dance. Well, you won’t be seeing any further mention of that event because 430 people visited, dined and danced on Sunday, Nov. 13. These were the people who paid attention to this column, the notices on the Facebook Roseland Roundtable page and Bonnie Sandona’s monthly pronouncements in the Spaghetti-Os newsletter.

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Interestingly, I’d like to quote the Daily Southtown newspaper while they were talking about attendance at the event: “… some 2,000 people who grew up thinking of their neighbors as family.” Okay, we know that didn’t happen. I took that out of context and made the poor wording in the article work for me. However, there were 430 tickets sold for the event, and at least 425 of those ticket buyers showed up. The attendees varied from neighbors who had gone to grade school together back in the 1940s and 1950s to couples who had double-dated while in high school and still maintain that friendship. There were also a good number of sons and daughters whose only connections to Roseland are what their parents told them and the photos and stories that they’ve seen on Facebook’s Roseland Roundtable.

By any standard, 425 people getting together for any event is a big deal. All the tables had guests at them and, as the night went on, those tables emptied as the dance floor was filled with the rock ‘n’ rollers. Meanwhile, at the tables, there were constant introductions, as well as visiting and conversations. It was my privilege to meet Victor Gonzalez, his daughter and son-in-law. Victor is 84 and in great shape, and speaking of someone in their 80s, Max Ghezi, who is 81, also came out to the event along with Val Ghezi and Jeanne and Louis Raffin.

My family was well-represented by myself, my sister Rose, and my sister Jean. We covered the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s — not age-wise, but with the music we danced to by Frank Rossi & Sharon Inucci Billo. The Tresche Conca Society would be proud to know that they were well-represented by numerous Panozzos, Bernardis and Avers, including Alan Panozzo who, in his early 30s, was among the youngest in attendance.

There was plenty of discussion concerning the old newspaper incarnation of Fra Noi and the new, trendsetting and more legible magazine format. The topics of past Petals from Roseland columns brought up suggestions for future columns covering everything from family reunions to businesses that have been in Roseland and any that might still be in Roseland like Tony Lofrano’s Auto Repair on Kensington.

Bonnie Sandona paused to remember those we knew who passed away recently, including Angelo Piolatto, whose son, August, and wife, Kathy, were in attendance. She also remembered those who were ill and couldn’t celebrate with us, including Mario Avignone, at Manteno Veterans Hospital, and Chuck Carli, who was recuperating at Manor Care in Palos Heights. Bonnie was gracious in also giving thanks to this column for publicizing and lending moral support to her as she marched toward her goal, which she accomplished at the October Spaghetti-Os, of selling all 430 tickets for the event.

As you can see by the attached photos, there were a lot of people who wore their dancing shoes. George Sandona was visiting with old friends, but Bill Hamill made sure that Bonnie got out on the dance floor. I didn’t see former Ald. Alex Adduci on the dance floor, but he did give a heartfelt thank you to all who stopped by and reminisced about the good old days in Roseland when he served the community as both alderman and Democratic committeeman.

One of the comments that I heard often was, “I hope there’s another dinner dance next year.” That would be great, but, as Bonnie had stated a year ago, this was a once-in-a-lifetime event. The only way to see many of the Roselandites that attended the dinner dance is to attend various events such as St. Anthony’s St. Joseph Breakfast Table/Alumni Sunday and the St. Anthony Alumni Dinner Dance in October. On a monthly basis, there are the Roseland Roundtable Pizza meet-ups, which are listed on Facebook and attract close to 30 attendees. By the way, Facebook’s Roseland Roundtable is where you’ll find information about any new class or neighborhood reunions.

My contact information is listed below for you to send suggestions for future column topics. Any stories you recall from your school days, places you worked at in Roseland, or your favorite hangouts, are all fair game.

I’d like to write a future column on Roseland couples who met at school, church, work, or a Roseland wedding or event and are still together. I would also like to hear from people who have reconnected and become a couple. I’d like to hear from as many people as possible and talk with you to get the complete details of the story.

Contact CJ Martello at 1501 W. Belmont Ave. #708, Chicago, IL 60657; 773-525-7823; or cjfranoi@yahoo.comRoseland 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.