Journalist Pete Hamill is born on this day in 1935 to Irish immigrants in Brooklyn. The oldest of a large brood of children, Hamill grew up playing stickball in a blue-collar neighborhood but was fascinated with comic books and novels. With the neighborhood tavern the center of his community’s social life, Hamill started drinking at an early age. Although his love for books had won him admittance to an elite high school in Manhattan, he felt out of place and dropped out.
Motivated by his love of comic books and art, Hamill went to art school and became a graphic artist after a period of drifting and living in Mexico. He eventually landed a job at the New York Post, which turned into a writing job and a regular, widely read column. A heavy drinker, Hamill finally quit on New Year’s Eve in 1972. His memoir A Drinking Life (1995) describes his lifelong relationship with alcohol and draws a colorful picture of life in Brooklyn in the 1940s and 1950s. In addition to non-fiction works and journalism collections, Hamill has penned 10 novels and two books of short stories.