In 1948, Giovanni Guareschi published his first volume in a series of charming stories about Don Camillo. The first volume to be translated into English, The Little World of Don Camillo Appeared in 1950. The series has three recurring characters.
Don Camillo is the priest of the town’s church. He is easily provoked, sometimes belligerent, but fundamentally a well-intentioned, God-fearing man.
The second character is the town’s communist mayor, Peppone, easily provoked, sometimes belligerent, an arguably decent, if not exactly God-fearing man. Don Camillo and he clash in every story.
The third character is Christ on the cross in Don Camillo’s church. Don Camillo often consults him, and they have a warm, if sometimes also fractious, relationship.
America’s internal divisions today don’t come close to those in Italy just after World War II, when Guareschi wrote his humane stories. Mussolini may have allied Italy with Germany, but he was deposed in 1943, when the new government declared for the Allies. Despite the poor reputation of Italy’s military while fighting at Germany’s side, its partisans (Resistance) were courageous beyond my comprehension, proving what Italians truly were when their hearts were in it. The Don Camillo and Peppone characters represent the two major forces determined to win over Italy in the wake of the war.
It seemed to me that an American, twenty-first century version of the Don Camillo stories might involve two flawed but ultimately well-intentioned politicians from the two major parties with one of them consulting a “living” Constitution. Max Morano is a Republican City Council Member, and Gavin Kane is a Democratic counterpart. Libby, in the form of an iPhone-like device, embodies the living Constitution.
I’m republishing last week’s single post, containing three stories, as three separate posts this week. I’ve made numerous revisions, especially in the first story, “The Homeless Problem,” and I’ve addressed formatting issues, such as by marking scene shifts with triple asterisks. I’m also adding a new story, ”Plastic Bags,” to the series.
Note: Since my original post, the Lettie Millette has undergone a name change to Tina Millette. Belatedly, I realized that “Lettie” was too close to “Libby.” Lettie—I mean Tina—graciously acquiesced.