Runyon’s New York

He practically invented at least two entire decades of his times, and had everybody believing that his street, Broadway, actually existed. So much of it never happened. What do you care? What does anybody care? Go to any library and the illusion is there as fact. The Roaring Twenties, the Golden Age of Sport, Broadway, the warmhearted guys and dolls…

–Jimmy Breslin about Damon Runyon

Born in Manhattan, Kansas, on this day in 1880, Runyon was thirty when he arrived in New York to be a newspaper reporter, and to try out his crap-shoot worldview — “All of life is six to five against” — at Lindy’s, the Stork Club, and any betting window available. “When Runyon turned from news to delivering myths,” writes Breslin in his 1991 biography, “they became one of the few things ever to spring out of the Broadway cement and last.”

Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at