Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Voice of the People by Guest Author Camille Minichino

Please welcome my guest this week: author and long-time friend, Camille Minichino.

Camille received her Ph.D. in physics from Fordham University, New York City. She is currently on the faculty of Golden Gate University, San Francisco and teaches writing throughout the Bay Area. Camille is Past President and a member of NorCal Mystery Writers of America, NorCal Sisters in Crime, and the California Writers Club. Camille has published over 20 novels and many short stories and nonfiction articles. For more about her and her works, please visit her website:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt lived down the street from us in Revere, Massachusetts. He was the best friend our family had. Or so I thought growing up in the early 1940s.

"Roosevelt gave me this job," my father would say, tapping a small brown envelope of cash, his week's wages.

"If it weren't for Roosevelt and the WPA, you wouldn't be getting new shoes for school," my mother would remind me.

I pictured a benevolent Mr. Roosevelt driving the old truck that picked up my father and his cronies, day laborers, from the corner of our street, taking them to the construction site of the day. I imagined the WPA, whoever they were, helping my mother shop for my school clothes.

My parents, as well as our neighbors and friends, were acutely aware of House Speaker Tip O'Neill's All politics is local. My father's (metal) social security card was a prized possession.

It seemed to me that every year was an election year, every election important to us. My mother especially was always campaigning, urging people to sign this or that petition, to vote, vote, vote. Our front window was never without a sign, RUSSO FOR MAYOR, AVALLONE FOR COUNCIL, SIEGEL FOR SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT.

And it all came together on the Fourth of July. Independence Day and Voting Day were the biggest holidays in our lives, competing with Thanksgiving and Christmas, but better because there was no back-breaking food prep or lugging a tree up the stairs. My father died on July 4, 1981—I've always felt that he timed it that way, going up with the glorious fireworks on Revere Beach.

Following politics, debating issues, voting, are still a priority for me. Being invited to contribute a story to LOW DOWN DIRTY VOTE has been a highlight of my year. Thanks to Mysti Berry and the grand array of colleagues in this anthology! And thanks, Ann Parker, for giving the Independence Day slot to me!

I'm thinking of making a poster of the LOW DOWN DIRTY VOTE cover, and propping it on my lawn.

Low Down Dirty Vote cover


Liz said...

Certainly seeing Low Down everywhere--Rap Sheet, Jungle Reds and here.
I remember tagging along with my mom to the neighborhood polling place, in a neighbor's basement. I had to stay outside with the policeman.
Wonder how women voted on their secret ballot, despite o

Ann Parker said...

Hi Liz!
I'm glad you're seeing LDDV everywhere... :-) More to come, I believe!
I'm going to guess what you were musing about before your comment cut off... Or at least, add a little something extra here.
In the 19th century, voting was NOT secret. In the early part of the century, some areas voted in public, "by voice." They went to local polling places and, while standing in front of the election judges and whoever else was crowded around, called out their choices loud and clear. Elsewhere (and later) there were paper ballots (or voters wrote their choices on pieces of paper) and handed them to the judges. Again, no secret. Can't you just imagine a judge looking over the choices, raising his eyebrows, and saying, "Does your family know what you're doing?"
Hmmmm. Another premise for a historical short story, perhaps! ;-)

Ann Parker said...

Camille... Thank you so much for sharing your story, and your father's SS card. A metal card... wow! I wonder when they stopped giving those out...
Elections were also a BIG deal in our family, with lots of discussion at the dinner table about the issues of the day (especially when I was young). When I was little, it all seemed so "adult" and exciting. I couldn't wait to be old enough to vote!

Liz said...

Goodness! Long live secret ballots.

Last word was "orders". Don't know why only part came through.

Ann Parker said...

Hi Liz, and YES hurray for secret ballots! Could you imagine folks shouting out their choices to the public at large in a polling station today?? Fisticuffs would ensue, I'm sure!

Unknown said...

Ann and Camille, thank you both so much for contributing stories to Low Down Dirty Vote. One of my favorite memories is watching your faces as your sharp writer's minds turned over possible approaches to the theme--I could see geniuses at work. I'm lucky to know such talented writers!

Camille, can you believe my dad was an ardent Nixon supporter, right up until the day Nixon resigned. My mom disagreed, quietly but firmly. But mostly they didn't talk politics much at all. If I didn't look so much like them, I'd suspect I was adopted :)

Here's hoping LDDV helps remind us all how important voting is!

Camille Minichino said...

Besides flag waving, Ann and I were waving LDDV copies at a gathering yesterday. Sending out buy links today! It's amazing how the topic resonates, bring back memories and inspiring action today.