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We were schooled!

I love to watch the reaction when I say I know someone because we went to different high schools together! The statement is always met with a quizzical look as the person tries to figure out if they heard me correctly. But that’s how it was, growing up in Roseland. Everyone identified so closely with their childhood friends that, as they grew up and went to different high schools, any information about the other schools was shared knowledge.

Walking down Michigan Ave (The Ave) was always a community event because you got to know your neighborhood friend’s classmates and they got to know yours. Whenever a school had a dance, they were always open dances and students from all the schools attended by Roselandites would be there. Schools as far away as DeLasalle, Chicago Vocational School (CVS), Mother of Sorrows and Mother Seaton were considered part of the Roseland schools. Of course, the schools in Roseland — Fenger, Curtis, St. Willibrord and Mendel — were the major high schools for events and activities.

St. Willibrord and Mendel had their weekend dances and battles of the bands event. There are still ’60s rockers from those battles who occasionally play at Blue Island’s Hideaway on Old Western Avenue. That shows you how tightly everyone bonded back in those high school days. Last year, there were three music events I can think of where those high school band members played their music. M & R Rush played at Bourbon Street on 115th & Kedzie, the Roseland Band played at the Hideaway, and a group of Roseland musicians played at the Friends of Pullman Picnic at the Hotel Florence.

I’ve managed to collect a number of yearbooks from a couple of the high schools. I have the St. Willibrord 1963, 1964, 1965, 1969 and 1970 yearbooks and the Fenger yearbooks for June 1934, 1946, 1947, 1948 and January 1947. If any of you or if someone you know, has yearbooks from any of the Roseland area high schools and would like to add them to the Roseland Memorabilia collection, I would be more than happy to accept them. The ones I have were given to me because they had sat on a shelf for many years with rarely a glance. It would be great to have a collection of yearbooks for visitors to review to see their parents or siblings or their own high school history.

Speaking of high schools, I just recalled that a St. Willibrord classmate of mine, Judy Holdsworth Castelloni, is heading up a committee to contact alumni for a 50 year reunion for our 1965 St. Willibrord graduating class. If you know the whereabouts of any of the members of that class, please let me know. It’s interesting that, while looking through my 1965 yearbook, I noticed a photo of Judy attending the Business Club with the caption reading, “devising ways of contacting alumni …” Apparently the lesson was well learned!

If anyone has a yearbook for Fenger Class of 1964, it would be interesting to look through it for Linda Johnson’s photo and information. Recently, while waiting to take a group on a tour of the Glessner House Museum, for which I am a docent, I began talking with a couple in their mid-20s. They were originally from Georgia and now live in Chicago’s Gold Coast and thought they’d visit Chicago’s original Gold Coast. They asked where I lived and when I said Pullman, the young lady’s eyes lit up.

Her great grandfather worked at the Pullman Factory and her mother visited the Pullman neighborhood often as a child. I asked her mother’s age and when she said “66” I asked if she was Catholic. She was Lutheran, which meant she more than likely attended Fenger High School and graduated in 1964 or 1965. The young lady promptly took out her phone and called her mother in Georgia. Her mother, Linda Johnson, graduated from the Chicago Art Institute in 1968 and moved to Georgia right after graduation. She graduated from Fenger in 1964 and lived at 11533 Harvard Ave.

With June soon approaching, there will probably be a large number of reunions held. I’d suggest checking out the Roseland Roundtable on Facebook for information. Talk of alumni getting together reminds of the fact that St. Anthony’s will be hosting its annual Alumni Mass on April 28. All former St. Anthony students, teachers, and family are welcome to attend the 8:30 Mass and coffee afterward. I will make it a point to travel to Rockford to pick up as many ciope as possible to share with everyone in attendance. I look forward to personally welcoming everyone who attends this annual event.

It would be great to have some mini-class reunions take place as has been planned for previously. It’s a great time to fondly recall those great memories of days on the playground and nuns in the classroom. There might even be some information available on a Roseland Picnic event that will be suitable for 300 attendees. Keep me informed if there’s any way I can be of assistance in gathering alumni for your mini-class reunions.

Speaking of Roseland events, the Roseland Roundtable is getting together at Traverso’s on Harlem Avenue on March 9t. You can look it up on Facebook or contact Mo Marquardt who is on the event committee, and doing a great job. The Dec. 29 gathering had to be closed off when more than 90 people signed up to attend.

In Memoriam

Jerry Gagliano, Sr. 93. Calumet City, formerly of Roseland; husband for 61 years of Eleanor, nee Nardoni; 39 years as crane operator at Interlake/Acme Steel … Rose M. Arvia, nee Urbani, 94; Richton Park, formerly of Roseland; wife of the late Anthony “Tony” Arvia … Roselene Jostes. nee Adduci, 82; Chicago Heights, formerly Roseland/St. Anthony of Padua; wife for 59 years of Ted Jostes.

Contact Information

Contact Petals From Roseland: CJ Martello, 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; cjfranoi@yahoo.com; leave message at 773-701-675.

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.