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Kathy Headley

Kathy Headley

‘Original’ Onesti Pizza is back

By Kathy Headley

Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor

6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778

During the past week, many of us received a surprise in the form of a flyer. It was from Onesti Pizza, 2755 W. 71st St. Awhile back the Onesti moniker was taken off of the windows, but this flyer announced “original management” and said “Welcome Back.” So, I know all Onesti lovers will be excited.

This Saturday, Oct. 2, Monarca Insurance and Financial Services, 3300 W. 63rd St., will be holding its official grand opening. Jeanette never had a grand opening for her business because she opened in the middle of winter, so she is celebrating now. The grand opening will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and feature food, vendors, live music and kids’ crafts.

In honor of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, a blessing of animals will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3 at St. Rita of Cascia Church, outside in the garden shrine on the corner of 63rd and Fairfield. All are invited to bring their pets.

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Kathy Headley

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, the Crochet Club with Mrs. Susie will meet at the Chicago Lawn Branch Library, 6120 S. Kedzie, from 5 to 5:45 p.m. This event will take place in-person and via Zoom. The club, recommended for ages 10-13, will meet monthly with the goal of creating a warm cozy scarf. You must supply your own needle and yarn.

Tiny Tykes Storytime returns to the library on Wednesday, Oct. 6, from 11 to 11:45 a.m. Geared toward children ages 3-5, it will also take place in-person and via Zoom. For more information on either event, call Mrs. Susie at the library at (312) 747-0639.

Next Saturday, Oct. 9, St. Rita High School, 7740 S. Western, is holding a baseball hitting clinic open to 6th, 7th and 8th grade boys from noon to 2 p.m. Boys need to bring their own bat and glove. Register at stritahs.com/admissions or contact Mr. John Bonk at (773) 925-6600.

The question I left you with last week: “Who was Nick Noble and what was his connection to the neighborhood?” was a hard one. When I first heard the name Nick Noble I was thinking WLS Silver Dollar Survey, but no song came to mind. Millie D. and Sharon F. agreed that they thought he was a singer.

Well, you could have lived in the heart of Chicago Lawn or the heart of Marquette Manor and you may have crossed paths with him.

When I was visiting, Chicago Lawn resident Nancy H. she asked me if I remembered Nick Noble. Nancy grew up here, attending Marquette School. Her family was among the founding members of Marquette Park Presbyterian Church, 65th and California. As happened with most kids, when Nancy was growing up, she spent a lot of time shopping with her mom on 63rd Street. This is what she told me about Nick Noble:

“One of the stores we frequented was Grocerland, by Troy Lane Apartments. Andy and Pat (Valkanos) had the store. Pat was a short guy. Andy was tall and loved to play golf at Marquette. It was a double-wide building, when you entered the store, if you turned left you were in produce. That is where their nephew, Nick, worked part-time.”

“He was the cutest and nicest guy,” remembered Nancy. “He had a long white apron. If I saw him bending over–fixing the produce–I’d sneak over and pull the bow in the back, so his apron came untied.”

After a bit of research on both of our parts, we found that Grocerland was at 3115 W. 63rd St. If you drive by today, you can still see the original mint green façade above the windows. Even though it’s now a barber shop, you can easily picture walking into a grocery store. We also learned that his dad shortened their surname to Valcan. Nick took Noble as a stage name.

When Nick was first married, he and his wife lived in an apartment building on Artesian, where some of his neighbors remember him practicing his singing.

Nick loved to perform, taking local weekend gigs when an executive at Mercury Records heard him. Nick’s first single to hit the Billboard charts was The Bible Tells Me So in 1955, and Joan S. remembers having that 45-rpm record. His career spanned most of three decades, the 1950s through the late 1970s, producing 109 singles.

Later he joined his uncle as a partner in Lou Mitchell’s restaurant.

For next week we’ll move to the southern part of the neighborhood. Do you remember Illinois Billiard Club? It has a bit of a celebrity connection, too.

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