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The people of Pullman

I am often asked, “Who lives in Pullman?” So, sit back and relax, because in this column, I’m going to tell you about the people of Pullman, otherwise known as “Pullmanites.” Those who live in Pullman run the gamut from the new homeowners to those who never left the neighborhood. One interesting fact that they all have in common is that they are die-hard members of the Pullman Fan Club. They will discuss the merits of life in Pullman at the drop of a conductorÍs hat, and they wonÍt let you go until you understand what a great extended family it is. If your conversation goes on long enough, you’ll also get info on the various likes and dislikes family members have. Sounds like a ‘family’ doesn’t it?

Recently, longtime Pullmanite Chuck Carli passed away. Chuck was a great guy, beloved by many for his gentle ways and willingness to step up and help others. For a number of years, he and his lovely wife, Beverly, ran Charlie Carli Beer Tavern at 546 East 115th Street, which is where Cal Harbor Restaurant is now located. Beverly has told me how the buildings at 115th & Cottage Grove were the home to many Carli cousins, in-laws and close friends.

My friend Anne Ronzani gave me a program for a Roseland Operetta Club performance from 1939 which had no less than 15 tavern-sponsored ads. The ad for Charlie Carli Beer Tavern included the line: “Say It With Beer — Keep The Flowers.” Which, by the way, is a great example of Charlie Carli’s wit.

Jim Ostarello and his sister Diane live on Forestville across from the Pullman Grade School. When I first saw Jim at the Friends of Pullman Family Reunion two years ago, I asked him where he lived, and when he gave me a Pullman address, I asked where he lived before. He repeated the Pullman address and I told him I meant before living in Pullman. His reply “We never left.”

Jim had just heard about the Roseland Roundtable Facebook Page and wanted more information. Since that time, he’s become a member and frequent commenter on the Roundtable and he and Diane, and their sister Mary, can be found joining me at Spaghetti-Os the last Tuesday of the month.

Jim Badalli is one of the stalwarts of Pullman, who also has never left. Everyone knows Jim as the person who cares so much for Pullman that he rescues properties rather than letting them lie in disrepair or abandonment.

Mike Shymanski heads up the Historic Pullman Foundation and he, along with his wife, commit hours to the enhancement of the Pullman experience by maintaining the Pullman Visitor’s Center. In addition, through updating properties, Mike has done his part to stabilize Pullman, making it the home of a number of professionals and historic-minded individuals.

Fran Trentacosti, who is the organist at St. Anthony’s and has been for many years, has a beautiful garden in front of her home and she has just gotten a new neighbor. She’s hoping the neighbor is understanding and pleased, as for years she has tended and beautified the front yard garden and floral landscaping on their joined property.

Paul Petraitis and his wife Caroline bought their house in the early 1970s and have always lived at the beginning of 112th and St. Lawrence across from the Greenstone Church. Paul has been a househusband for many years and has kept his eye on the neighborhood and his ear to the ground. That is, when he’s not listening to music. His interest and knowledge of historic Roseland is well-known. He is one of the co-founders along with Dan Bovino and me of the Roseland Roundtable. Through his Annual Labor Day Live Music event, Paul and Roseland’s Battle of the Bands veterans keep rock music alive.

There are also newcomers from the past 20 years who voluntarily maintain the garden at 111th and Langley or the gardening plots within the grounds of the Pullman Factory site. Pullmanites are known as a group that cares for their neighborhood and can be found volunteering at various events. Throughout the year, Pullmanites can be seen working at various events such as the Labor Day Weekend Bicycle Ride, Pullman Garden Walk and Pullman House Tour ,and giving tours at the Pullman Factory Site on the first Sunday of the month.

Since I’ve begun writing this column, I’ve attended many events in Pullman. Last year’s Hobofest and this year’s George Pullman Birthday Celebration are just two of the events I attended. I have been trained as a docent to act as a tour guide at the Pullman Factory Site. When I guided my first tour, it included a visit to a Pullman house, which gave me the opportunity to meet to more Pullmanites.

The following Sunday, my friend Michelle Regan and I met and had the opportunity to visit with the gracious couple, Richard and Jane Nystrom. Richard told us that his mother lived in the house before he purchased the one next door back in ’70s. Jane and Richard eventually combined both residences into a beautiful layout worthy of a magazine photo shoot.

Having attended numerous Pullman Civic Organization meetings and a Sunday Morning Brunch Club or two, I know Pullman and many of its residents very well. I am also familiar with the Friends of Pullman, Pullman Historic Foundation, and Pullman Civic Organization, and many of the members of these booster organizations.

Pullmanites have always proven themselves to be pleasant and considerate and their love for Pullman is undeniable. After four years of visiting Pullman, I spent a Sunday walking the entire south Pullman area from 111th Street to 115th Street and from Cottage Grove to Langley. It really gave me a good perspective of how beautiful Pullman is and how much the residents care. Pullman struck me as being a step back in time and very much the quintessentially quaint village that George Pullman had envisioned.

For all of those who haven’t been back to Pullman because they aren’t sure if anyone they know still lives there, or they won’t have a place to stop once they get there, I have news for you.

As of the beginning of August, my new address is 11403 S. St. Lawrence. It is the yellow brick fronted building, second from the southeast corner and has the mailbox with the green, white and red colors of the Italian flag on it. All of my readers, former Pullmanites and former Roselandites, are welcome to give me a call if they are in the area, or plan to be, and stop by for a visit. It would be great if you wanted to stop by for a coffee after Mass at St. Anthony’s. Stopping by will give you the perfect opportunity to park your car and take a short, pleasant tour through George Pullman’s vision, and the result of all the hard work, determination and love of present-day Pullmanites.

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.