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Easter in Roseland

Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter! Years of family Easter celebrations come to mind upon hearing those words. Easter was the biggest family celebration of the year. Christmas was a family gathering, too, but it was centered around gift giving and receiving — generally geared toward the children.

Being part of a large family meant more children at each holiday celebration. Any significant religious meaning for Christmas became obscured as the number of children increased to 28 nieces and nephews.

The one true religious family celebration was always Easter. When my nieces and nephews were little children, my family would attend Mass at St. Anthony’s and immediately head home. That is when we would prepare for the onslaught of my brothers and sisters and their children coming over to Mom and Dad’s for dinner.

The seasoned chicken with potatoes was my mother’s specialty, along with polenta of such a perfect texture that I still haven’t been able to master it. We would also have Italian roast beef from Pannetti’s and, of course, ciopette.

Before we sat down to eat, we always had the Easter egg hunt, which took place in the yard and the house. The hunt was for the younger kids but the night before was when the bigger kids had their fun.

I recall buying PAAS Easter egg coloring kits with the wire egg dunkers down the street on Michigan Avenue at Wanda’s, which was at 117th place. Later that night would come the choosing of the pastel colors — the only choices. The creative part came in choosing the decals to use with the personal artist’s touch being created with the white wax crayon.

The wax crayon allowed you to personalize an egg with a drawing or a name. The magic was in seeing how your invisible artwork turned out once you dunked the egg into the bowls with colored water.

Once the eggs cooled and were colorized, it was time to hide them. Almost every family has photos or 8mm film of those Easter egg hunts. The other memory would be of the rotten egg smell that would emerge two weeks after the Easter feast as the one or two undiscovered Easter eggs decayed and their stench finally led to their discovery.

After the hunt, everyone would sit at the family table as Momma brought out dish after dish with everything from the seasoned oven-baked chicken to gnocchi and salsiccia. The wine was for the adults while pop and water were served at the kids’ table. May all your Easters start with family Mass and end with family dinner!

Buona Pasqua e Buona Cena!

In Memoriam
A long-time reader of the Fra Noi passed away recently and his wife called with a touching request that he be remembered in the Petals from Roseland, which he couldn’t wait to read each month. Reno Lovato, 80, of Bloomington, and formerly of Roseland, passed away on Jan. 21. Reno was a machinist at Argonne National Laboratory and is survived by Betty Ann and their four children. Also among the recently departed are Raymond A. Sartori, 83 (husband of Florence), late of Palos Heights and Roseland, retired carpenter for Lindholm Construction; Longtime restaurateur Carlo Peter Lorenzetti Sr., 79, owner of Carlo’s in Chicago Heights and former owner of the Harbor Light Restaurant in Roseland, fondly remembered as a longtime supporter and sponsor of the Spaghetti-Os.

Note e Notizie
The St. Anthony reunion dinner will be held this year on Oct. 9 at Chateau Bu-Sché, 11535 S. Cicero, Alsip. (This is a major change due to the closing of Villa di Bruno in Lansing.) For details, call 773-468-1200. … St. Anthony School will host an alumni Mass at 8:30 a.m. on April 25. … The Spaghetti-Os will host a bowling outing on March 21 at the Oak Forest Bowl. Tickets are $25. Contact Dennis Panozzo at 708-479-6718. … A Feb. 23 presentation by the Windy City Harmonicas was enjoyed by all in attendance. Visit www.budboblink.com to relive the magic. … I recently heard from Clara Mauro, formerly of Kensington Avenue. She and her son Nick are debating whether to make a ciope run to Rockford’s Piedmont Bakery and will keep us informed. … The Roseland Roundtable has been receiving yearbooks, photos,and other memorabilia for the planned Hotel Florence Roseland Rooms. Visit our Facebook page to find out more.

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