As noted by Jim Walsh, chronicler of pioneer recording artists, if you were to walk into 312 West 20th Street in Manhattan in the early 1930s, you would be standing in a theatrical booking agency, run by one Dan W. Quinn. But what Walsh didn’t realize was that this was also Quinn’s home. Now what we don’t know is how much space he and his family had in that flat in the days before all the apartments were cut up into smaller units. Was Quinn able to set aside dedicated space for the business and keep his home private? Or was there no real “agency” to walk into? Does anybody know?
There’s a charming bit in one of Quinn’s letters to Walsh in which he takes understandable pride in his little neighborhood, noting all the great things that had happened on 20th Street:
I’m beginning to think that Twentieth Street is illustrious. #4 East 20 St, Howley, Haviland & Co had their famous publishing house, 29 East 20 St, was George L. Spaulding, Publisher, where “I Guess I’ll Have to Telegraph My Baby” (Geo. Cohan) was born, 41 East 20 St, Stern & Marks, held forth. Now we have Music Lover’s Guide, at 42 East 20 St. The mansion at 28 E. 20 still stands, majestic and grand—where Theodore Roosevelt was born. Gottschalk & Alpuente—the great Concert Managers, at 21 E. 20 and last but by no means the least—a-hem, Dan W. Quinn, at 312 W. 20. Now do you not think we are rather proud of Twentieth Street?
(August 27, 1934)
Quinn lived the better part of four decades in the Chelsea neighborhood.
Being in such close proximity to all those publishers helped him, we reason, to develop relationships with composers and publishers. That’s probably how he got dibs on new songs. Don’t forget, too, that he was also a songwriter. We know of three that he wrote or co-wrote: “The Same Sweet Girl To-day,” “A Picture of My Daddy When a Boy,” and “Lindy, Does You Love Me?” Are there any others?
Thanks to Ryan Barna for his help with the Walsh letters, which are at the Library of Congress.
We have recently been most fortuitously gifted with correspondence from three of Quinn’s grandchildren! They have been so kind, generous, and supportive. As a result, we now have a revised Quinn genealogy. There are several additions, as well as some corrections to the original post. Enjoy!