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Afternoon Shift

Rally cry for Roseland

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(WBEZ/Louisa Chu)

In November 1972, a man named Buritt Bulloch and his wife Mamie decided to open a business in that far South Side neighborhood known as Roseland. He said, "I had heard that Roseland was a good place for family-run businesses."

For decades it had been, a thriving area of working-class prosperity, its stretch of Michigan Avenue was second only to downtown State Street as a shopping mecca: Gately's Peoples Store, Neisner’s, Green’s Five and Dime.

Want some furniture? Get it at Bimrose, Hatten’s, Bass, Jordan’s.

A movie? Head on over to the State, Parkway or Roseland theaters…

Bakeries? How about Ergo's or Liberty.

Taverns? Plenty…The Venice Inn, Parisi's, Knotty Pine, Pete & Mames, The Macombo…

People in Roseland worked hard and wanted the best for their kids: Two of those kids made it very big.

Dennis DeYoung formed the band that would be Styx, and sell some 40 million albums, in a band that began in Roseland garage.

My guest later in the show, Robert Zemeckis, director of such films as Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Cast Away and Flight, opening next Friday, shot home movies as a kid in Roseland.

But things change; and by the time Bullouch and his wife moved into Roseland in 1972, it was on the downward spiral that now finds it one of the city’s beaten up sections, punctuated by violence, peppered with abandoned homes…slim on opportunity.

But as in many other of the city’s downtrodden areas—Austin, Englewood come quickly to mind—there are good and honest and hard-working people in Roseland. And there are always signs of hope.

Bulloch’s business is still there, at 11248 S. Michigan Ave. Bulloch's business was and is making doughnuts and there are those who will tell you that Old Fashioned Doughnuts makes the best.

Naturally, Bulloch likes to hear such praise.

He says: "I have a lot of loyal customers. A lot of people who moved away still come back here for their doughnuts." 

From the beginning Bulloch also operated a grill, serving hot dogs, hamburgers and other food; he also has shakes and ice cream.

Why? "Some people, they don't have as big a taste for doughnuts when it's 95 degrees."

Bulloch is a native of northern Mississippi. He learned to make doughnuts during the many years he worked here for the Amy Joy Company. He saved his money. He opened his shop. Unlike many small business owners, Bulloch is not resentful of the larger chains that cut into their territory.

He says: "Oh, that Dunkin' Donuts was around here long before I opened. They make a pretty good doughnut. And even that Krispy Kreme, they started a long time ago in the South." 

Krispy Kreme has all but destroyed Bulloch's once-thriving business with local schools, which used to buy dozens of his doughnuts for fund raisers.

"But that's okay," Bulloch says. "They don't make a bad doughnut but some people think they are sort of on the small side." 

Bulloch's doughnuts are comparatively huge and as good as you will find anywhere. That's the reason he sells 200 dozen a day. 

His secret? 

"Just hard work, I guess," he says.

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