A tongue in cheek look at the history of business,
hotel and otherwise, in Queens, NY
|By Brian Fraga, Jamaica Times Ledger; Queens, NYC
September 2005 - Tim McGlinchey may commute from his home in Suffolk County to the JFK Courtyard Marriott in Jamaica, but his family's roots will always run deep in Queens and reflect the borough's rich legacy of small community businesses.
Sitting in the lobby of the hotel where he is now the general manager, McGlinchey reflected on the recent treasure trove of letters, documents, census records and pictures his family members unearthed.
The documentation provided some material evidence to back up the stories he remembered hearing from his elders while growing up in Bayside, especially about the uncle who sold ill-fitting shoes to Theodore Roosevelt.
"It's been very much an oral history," McGlinchey said as he produced photocopies of typed and handwritten letters between Roosevelt and his great uncle, Richard Sheridan, a bootmaker with a store in downtown Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century whose handiwork did not impress the president.
In 14 letters dated between 1899 and 1905, Roosevelt complained of various ill-fitting boots and shoes and requested exchanges for the correct shoe sizes.
Roosevelt sent Sheridan a handwritten note on Dec. 23, 1904 saying that two pairs of shoes he had recently bought had faulty inseams that hurt his feet.
For McGlinchey, the Roosevelt connection gave him and his siblings an opportunity for an impressive essay in grade school.
"As kids, we always did our reports on Teddy Roosevelt and had his feet to fall back on," McGlinchey said. "It was kind of the family essay, but we always got an A on it."
The presidential connection notwithstanding, the rest of his family's business legacy could stand alone in the borough's collective memory.
McGlinchey's maternal grandfather and grand uncle owned Theiss and Theiss Public Accountants, a prominent Bayside firm established in the 1930s. His grand uncle, Louis Theiss, Jr., who served as president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce from 1991 to 1993, even gave him his first "corporate" job.
"I was vice president of garbage removal," McGlinchey said with a laugh. "And he insisted on paying me with a check and taking all the taxes out. It was no under-the-table stuff. He wanted to do it all proper. All my siblings and cousins were vice presidents at some points in their lives."
McGlinchey's father's family, which hailed from Jamaica, was also prominent in Queens business.
They owned the Shadyside Hotel on Hillside Avenue from the late 1800s to the mid-1920s.
Family pictures of the hotel then show a narrow Hillside Avenue wide enough to only accommodate two pedestrians.
His grandfather owned the Old Forge restaurant on 35th Avenue and Bell Boulevard in Bayside, which still exists at the same address.
Such connections to the area have led McGlinchey to get involved in recent efforts to promote tourism in Queens.
"I certainly have good conversations, particularly coming back to Queens
to work," McGlinchey said. "I find a lot of people know the McGlinchey
or Theiss name or both. It certainly provides conversations in many different
Reach reporter Brian Fraga at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
Reprinted with permission from the author, Brian Fraga - September 29th Edition of the Jamaica Times Ledger; Queens, NYC
©Times Ledger 2005
Timothy J. McGlinchey
Courtyard by Marriott JFK
145-11 North Conduit Avenue
Jamaica, NY 11436
718-848-2121 ext. 601