“Writing the book” on Roseland
I began writing Petals from Roseland for Fra Noi in October 2008. In the ensuing three-and-a-half years, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for all things Roseland. For example, Roseland includes representatives of many nationalities, chief among them being the Italians, of course (although, the Dutch, Irish, German and Slovak residents might see things differently). The history of the Italians in Roseland is intertwined with all our friends and classmates of different ethnic backgrounds. Once Roselandites left the enclaves surrounding their homes, they entered the world of Roseland at large, which included all those other ethnicities.
All of these people populated and created the Roseland in which we grew up during those four feel-good decades from the ’40s to the ’70s. If I’ve learned anything as a writer on the subject of Roseland, it’s that everyone has great and memorable experiences: from shopping or working at Gately’s to getting a ticket from “Ernie the cop”; from cruising the “Ave” (Michigan Avenue) to hanging out at Vinci’s or Chicken Little; from the dances at Mendel’s or St. Willy’s to playing baseball at Palmer Park or swimming at West Pullman Park.
People have told me stories and shown me photos of St. Anthony’s Young People’s Association (SAYPA) picnicking at Green Lake (P-Soup). I’ve also seen photos of couples at their weddings and 50th anniversary celebrations. I’ve been shown photos of folks who are now grandparents back when they were members of the Roseland Marching Band or the Palmer Park baseball teams. The best part of seeing those photos is hearing the stories that go along with them, and seeing the “light of youth” that shines in the eyes of the storytellers.
After all these years of hearing stories and seeing photos, I think it may be time for a Roseland history book. I know that there are many online ways to see photos of Roseland, Pullman, Kensington, West Pullman and the surrounding neighborhoods, but there’s nothing like owning a book to share with friends and family filled with stories and interspersed with photos of the wonderful life we once knew in Roseland.
I am currently exploring the feasibility of such a book. Its purpose would be to keep alive the spirit of the Roseland we all so fondly remember. To create such a book, I need more stories from Roselandites, no matter where they live at this time. That’s why I created a questionnaire, which you can obtain through the link provided here.
I have discussed this project with Dominic Candeloro, curator of the Roselli Library in the Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia, and we have gotten fellow Roselandites Tony Maro and Jeanette Risatti Viehman involved. We would appreciate any comments, suggestions, stories, photos or questions you might have. Every personal story, no matter how unimportant you might think it is, could play a part in the book, and we encourage you to share it.
When it comes to photos, one of the big issues people have is that they feel they have to organize them before letting us see them. Clara Maro, who lives in Matteson, thought so until her son Tony convinced her to let me see her photos regardless of whether they were organized.
I stopped by Clara’s house and she presented me with two large boxes of photos to take home and look at. She did not give them to me to organize, but to look through. I went through her photos, some of which had names written on them and others didn’t. After making my selections, I shared them with Clara.
With her approval, I took them home, scanned them in, and immediately returned them to her possession. Clara and I are both happy: she with her originals and me with my digital copies for inclusion in a history of Roseland, whether it be online or in a book. Some of her photos have already been posted on the Roseland Roundtable Facebook page.
The same day I visited Clara Maro, I stopped by the homes of Joe and Josephine Pesavento, and Bea and Larry Lovino. During both visits, I was shown all manner and form of Roseland memorabilia, including sports photos, a Pullman Company conductor’s punch, and an original poster from Camadecas, the first home of Spaghetti-Os.
I had a great day because I was able to share wonderful memories and view a treasure trove of photos, artifacts and memorabilia. I’d be more than happy to visit your home and do the same. Remember, your memorabilia doesn’t have to be organized. The important thing is that we keep our memories of Roseland alive in one form or another.