Pat McGuire Makes Long Journey ‘Home’
The restaurant that now stands on the corner of Beach 108 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard is called “Snug Harbour.”
Anybody who lived in that area when it was the famous “Irish Town,” or who loves basketball, however, will remember that, back in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the place was called “McGuire’s,” and that it was the home of the famous Al and Dick McGuire, both of whom played basketball for St. John’s University and then the New York Knicks.
In fact, to many old-timers, the ties between Rockaway basketball and the McGuire family are so tight that one cannot think of one without the other, whether it be summer games at St. Francis de Sales or the famous pick up games at the playground at Beach 108 Street and Shore Front Parkway that drew the best high school, college and pro players in the nation to Rockaway.
Basketball was Al’s passion but it was in Rockaway that Al found true love.
That true love was his beloved wife Pat, and last Monday, after a 25-year absence, her sons Al Jr., Rob and daughter Noreen brought Pat back to the beach to visit Rockaway and the restaurant they had once owned.
“We wanted to bring mom to see the old neighborhood,” said Rob.
Pat fondly recalls the great memories she had of growing up and of meeting Al in Rockaway.
“I remember I spent my summers in the bungalows with my grandparents and it was great,” Pat said.
“I met him (Al) at the beach. And we stayed under the boardwalk because we didn’t have any blankets or towels. We would run straight from the water to there,” Pat reminisced.
The McGuire’s loved each other.
“Al was a lifeguard when he was older and the whole group of us would jump in the water. He’d sit (with his head down) and I remember him asking what happens if we all drown and you’re not watching,” said Pat.
She laughs as she remembers how Al answered back. “He said ‘Take care of yourself. I can’t take care of everybody.’”
Al’s coaching career would take him to Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina and Marquette University, where he would win an NCAA Championship in his final season in 1977. When Al accepted the job at Marquette University, Pat at first didn’t even know where Marquette was.
Al apparently didn’t know either.
“I don’t know where it is. I think it’s in Minnesota,” he told Pat.
They eventually located Marquette in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They were welcomed there with open arms as transplanted New Yorkers, and Pat still lives there today.
Al always kept his connection to Rockaway and the city through recruiting or telling stories about the community during his many years on the air as a basketball commentator for both NBC and CBS.
Pat holds that same fondness for Rockaway, as she indicated as she got ready to sit down for dinner at the restaurant that once was called McGuire’s.
“It’s different. But I always loved the beach. I don’t remember the beach this wide when I grew up but the beach is still with me,” Pat said.