If you had asked me not so long ago who Damon Runyon was I would have shrugged and made a wild guess that it was perhaps some long lost breed of apple. The name has an of aura of all that is good and comforting about the past; of something well worth the effort of cultivating in order that it won’t be lost. But Damon Runyon is not so much an apple from a time when life was simple, as a smouldering memory of the Apple; any large city in America where ethnicity and eccentricity, migration and mayhem give them a particularly unique taste.
He was born Alfred Damon Runyon in 1880 in Kansas in to a family of newspapermen and ended up, via Colorado, in New York as a sports writer having dropped the Alfred. By all accounts he was a hardened drinker, gambler and smoker; though he purportedly dropped the drinking sometime after 1910 for the love of a woman he later married. The marriage didn’t last and she, ironically, died of drink related problems, by which time he had renewed a fling with a Mexican woman who became his second wife. But that marriage didn’t stay the course either and she left him for a younger man in 1946, the same year he died of throat cancer.