On this day, 37-year-old journalist Pete Hamill quits drinking. Hamill’s bestselling memoir, A Drinking Life, details the influence of alcohol throughout the author’s life.
Hamill was born and raised in an Irish neighborhood in Brooklyn. The oldest of several 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 the neighborhood’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.
Drawn 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, 1972. His memoir, A Drinking Life, describes his lifelong relationship with alcohol and draws a colorful picture of Brooklyn neighborhood life in the 1940s and 1950s.