Dante: Leprechaun

I’ve never read anything by Dante, though I know he wrote something concerning hell fire and I have a bust of him in my house. Maybe it’s strange to display his likeness when I know so little about him, but there is a family history behind Dante.


My wife is Irish on both sides. But one grandparent was Italian; family name, Galdieri. My wife’s great-grandfather Galdieri was an Italian immigrant who trained as a engineer but found work as a tailor and clothing designer after he crossed the Atlantic and ended up in New York. He kept a black head-and-shoulders statue of Dante in his library, and it’s the same one that sits on an old chest today in my family room in San Diego.

Like the chest, it came west in a U-Haul trailer after my wife an I visited her Grandma in northern New Jersey and brought home odd sticks of furniture and pieces of art that Grandma was willing to part with. Believe me, it wasn’t the good stuff. So we got the bust of Dante.

He must have been a serious dude because the Dante bust wears a scowl. He has a sharp chin and a beaked nose and his expression is a constant invitation to parody. That’s why we are always putting hats on him. During the Christmas season he wears a Santa hat. In the summer he wears a straw fedora that I sometimes remove and wear myself if I need protection from the sun. This week he’s a leprechaun in observance of St. Patrick’s Day.

So Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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