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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jonathan Worth Daniels, March 9-11, 1977. Interview A-0313. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Humorous account of Daniels's gambling skill

Daniels shares an amusing story of one of his gambling exploits. Poet Ogden Nash became severely indebted to Daniels while they played dice. However, as a gentleman, Daniels had to allow Nash to save face by reclaiming his money. This passage demonstrates the role southern honor played in Daniels's personal interactions with others.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jonathan Worth Daniels, March 9-11, 1977. Interview A-0313. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JONATHAN WORTH DANIELS:
...I might as well come to my sins. At Chapel Hill my name was "Dice Daniels." I was the leading crapshooter on the campus, and I had a reputation which I do not think was justified as a man who could just call the numbers and [laughter] sing to them. And I did in those days; I'd get down and croon and sing and name them with all the names out of the folklore of craps. And I shot a lot of dice.
CHARLES EAGLES:
Make much money that way?
JONATHAN WORTH DANIELS:
I must have, but I don't remember that I was very far ahead. The only time I really got far ahead was when I stopped. Oh, it must have been half a dozen years later. I was in New York, and a friend of my brother-in-law there, Noble Cathcart and I, met Ogden Nash and a couple of fellows on the street, up about Fifty-seventh Street. And Oggie said, "Come on in and have a nightcap." So we got in, and somebody got out a pair of dice and I began to play. This was in the middle of the Depression. And I had those fellows in debt to me in the hundreds of dollars.
CHARLES EAGLES:
[Laughter]
JONATHAN WORTH DANIELS:
Well, nobody among us had a hundred dollars. [Laughter] And so then it became a time that, as a gentleman, you had to lose money back. And I tried and tried to lose, and I got them deeper and deeper in debt. And finally I did get down to where they were only ten or twelve dollars behind, and I stopped, and I have never played dice since. But that was excruciating. It was a time when you were winning, and you knew they couldn't afford to win and you couldn't afford to let them win, but you couldn't help it. [Laughter]
CHARLES EAGLES:
You passed up a good career.
JONATHAN WORTH DANIELS:
Maybe so [laughter] , I don't know, but I haven't gambled since.