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The places where we used to hang out

Growing up in Roseland, there were a number of places we frequented, first by virtue of our parents taking us there and then by us venturing out on our own. As we grew older, those places grew smaller. Not physically, of course, but comparatively, as we grew to fit spaces that seemed so large when we were children.

One such place was Gately’s Peoples Store on 112th and Michigan Avenue. As children, the main aisles seemed so wide as we passed by the sale items on display. Later, when we went there on our own, or with our friends, the store didn’t dwarf us anymore.

But there were those places that seemed to grow as gradually as we did. One place that comes to mind is the well-known Pat & Matt’s.

For many of us, it was the only place we were allowed to roam on our own while our parents were busy visiting or dad was sharing a beer with friends at the five-stool bar. There was definitely enough going on in Pat & Matt’s to entertain us, and that included the candy display case. In retrospect, it was a really great marketing idea to have the penny candy on the lower shelves directly at the eye level of a 7 year old.

To the St. Anthony crowd, Pat and Matt’s was what Roseland’s first store, the Calumet General Store, was to Roseland’s early Dutch settlers: the local gathering place. Pat & Matt’s was actually the last name on the business we all remember. It originally was Agostino’s, then became Pat & Frank’s until the late 1950s when Pasquale Giordano and Matthew Valente became partners and created Pat & Matt’s.

On the Roselandroundtable Facebook site, there is a long-shot photo of Pat & Matt’s counter as it goes from restaurant to bar counter. Of course, for us kids, the two sections were easily denoted by the restaurant stools fastened to the floor while the bar had just five freestanding stools.

Pat and Matt’s was the place for older Italians to pick up a copy of Il Progresso, Il Corriere or L’Italia and a Petri or Perogi stogie — those crooked little cigars. Pat & Matt’s sold more copies of L’Italia than it sold of the Chicago Sun, Chicago Times, and Herald Tribune combined. One way they accomplished that feat was by ordering subscriptions in the name of their customers and holding the papers and magazines until the customer could come in to pick them up.

For kids like LouAnn Sola LaPretto, who grew up in Pat & Matt’s eating Arctic Ice Cream while looking at the candy counter, the next step was coming in after church or school for a cherry coke. My own favorite after-school treat included a coke and a piece of cherry pie, all for 35 cents.

One other thing Pat & Matt’s provided to many of St. Anthony’s young parishioners was that crucial “first job.” Among those lucky ones were Larry and Mike Avignone and Mark and Andy Galvan. And, way back when it was Pat & Frank’s, my sister Jean, who was 11 or 12 at the time, worked there, too.

The most memorable feeling I have of Pat & Matt’s was one of family and belonging. We felt it just standing there being watched over by people we didn’t even know — and isn’t that what life in Roseland was all about?

In Memoriam
It is with great sympathy for Mario Avignone and his family that I note the passing of his daughter-in-law, his son Larry’s wife, Claudia Mautone Avignone. Also, recently passing were Bruno Bernardi of Bernardi Brother’s Pullman Wine & Liquor, Susan Bertoletti, and Diana M. Pessetto, nee Pettenon.

Note & Notizie
Benvenuti to two new Fra Noi subscribers, Marion Phillips of Hudson, Fla., and Italiaphile Francesca Bertoletti. Grace Nicoli Lang is looking for a copy of an old St. Anthony cookbook if anyone has one available. Happy 91st birthday to Victoria Bortoli Dal Santo. The Veneti nel Mondo’s Oct. 31 Halloween meeting will be held at Carmel Hall in Melrose Park. The Spaghetti-Os Oct. 26 meeting will be held at Carlo’s Lorenzetti’s. St. Anthony’s annual dinner dance will take place at Chateau Bu-Sche on Oct. 9, with an open bar at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and dancing to follow. Tickets are $60. Call 773-468-1200 by Sept. 27. Come visit with old friends or organize a mini-reunion of your own.

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.