Thomas & Katherine Detre Library & Archives Treasures: Gus Miller: Oakland's No. 1 Citizen


When Gus Miller turned 75, his daughter and business partner, Myrtle Mae, decided to turn his birthday into a public event. She invited scores of his friends and loyal customers, including bartenders, bankers, and policemen, to stop by his newsstand on Forbes Avenue for a piece of a cake. By then, the 1950s, Miller had become a neighborhood institution in Oakland, known not only for his long-running store but also for his decades of service as chief usher at Forbes Field. This birthday tradition continued in the years to come, with the guest list growing to include local politicians and reporters, who dutifully covered the celebrations for their papers, sometimes referring to Miller as “Oakland’s No. 1 Citizen.” Tongue-in-cheek invitations were sent to national figures including the Postmaster General, the Secretary of the Army, and even the President of the United States. Well known for his playful sense of humor, Miller decorated his store with their declining responses.

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