Every year when February rolls around, memories of Cupid, Valentine cards, childhood memories, loves lost and won, and family and friends who are no longer with us all come flooding back.
Back in 1966, the group The Association came out with the song “Cherish” and in my humble opinion that word has never been given its due. Say it a few times slowly, deliberately, until you feel it. That’s the feeling we Roselandites get when we think of our formative years.
Not only do we cherish each and every one of those years, but also each and every memory we have of our time in Roseland.
A couple of months ago, being aware of the importance of research for this column, I attended the annual Cal-Harbor Restaurant Christmas party — purely for research purposes. Of course, those in attendance were all Pullmanites including some who were born in Pullman or Roseland and some who moved to Pullman within the last 10 years or so.
Once everyone had something to eat and drink, as with all Roselandite events, the stories started coming fast and furious. The conversation wended its way from sneaking in while underage into a few of the old drinking establishments to enjoying the great food and people at Ken & Dick’s Pizza to Midnight Mass at St. Anthony. All these memories that we’ve cherished throughout the years come to the surface at a moment’s notice.
Throughout the years, as I’ve spoken to hundreds of Roselandites, each of whom has countless cherished memories to share. Near the top of most lists is Gately’s. I’ve heard stories of everything from working at Gately’s, meeting future spouses there, buying prom dresses, eating a million donuts just to watch the donut train, buying a hotdog with chips and a Green River, parking the family Red Ryder wagon inside by the 112th Street side entrance to haul groceries home, stepping on the fluoroscopic “foot x-ray” stand in the shoe department: the list goes on and on. Gately’s certainly comes under the heading “cherish.”
“Cherish is the word we use to describe” … The Ave — Roseland’s premier shopping district. Michigan Avenue was always lovingly called “The Ave.” An entire night could be spent talking with just six Roselandites about the events, shops, and happenings that were all part of life on The Ave.
Conversations have led to discussions of cherished happenings such as the Little League parade or the Christmas parade; the Christmas decorations; and the Karmelcorn Shop, Three Sisters women’s clothing, Stu DeJong Hobby, Herman’s Army Store, Woolworth’s, Kresge’s, State Theater, Roseland Show, Zordan’s Music, Roseland Records and many, many other shops. Every Roselandite has their personal experience that they want to share when the “good old days” come up in conversation.
“You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I had told you …” The Roselandites we cherish from our everyday experiences are etched in the photo albums of our minds. Neighbors, church ushers, teachers, janitors, storekeepers, neighborhood regulars can be found among the pages, many of whom passed away before we had a chance to speak with them because of our age difference or our place in life.
For myself, it’s been very rewarding moving to Pullman and becoming an active part of St. Anthony Parish and the Pullman neighborhood. I’ve been fortunate to befriend people who were parishioners and community residents for decades. I’ve gotten to talk with them and tell them what an impression they made on me.
There are also those I remember who have passed on who were a big part of my Roseland life, such as “Big Christie” who worked at Illinois TV on 115th Street. I recall that his sister took care of him after their parents passed away and he would always be at St. Anthony’s masses.
My cousin’s lived across the street from the church in the house behind Joe the Barber’s shop. When I was small, my brother Augie and I would tag along with my mother to visit our cousin Nini. Then there was Scudella, a paesan from my dad’s hometown in Italy. He holds a special place in my heart because he was one of the most genteel people I’ve ever met. He had a great claim to fame with my family.
The Parkway was a movie theater near 111th and Michigan Avenue and Scudella was the maintenance man when it was decided to close the theater. There was a recession going on and finding work was tough for my dad. Scudella called and said he had a present for us. My dad took us there to pick up a real prize: three 5-gallon tins of coconut oil that was used for popcorn. For months, thanks to Scudella’s gift, our house had the tropical smell of coconut oil whenever a recipe called for cooking oil.
Of course, there are fond memories of brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, Sunday and holiday family dinners that I will always cherish.
It seems that cherish is a word that more than applies!
Contact me at 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756; or firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit Roseland Roundtable on Facebook.