I posted a photo of this postcard on Instagram earlier this year and asked for some more information about just what “The Just Right” was back in the day. I knew this building had a long history as Gus Miller’s newsstand but I didn’t know what else was in the building. I liked the horse shoe on the top and “The Just Right” seems like a great name for a band or a podcast or the title of an essay for the New Yorker (the essay would of course be about someone who moved to Pittsburgh and found the city to be the just right place to be). For some reason I thought “The Just Right” might be a name for a brothel or other “interesting establishment.” There is a building on the Boulevard of the Allies, where the restaurant Papa J’s was located, that was a brothel, so it is not out of the realm of possibility. Before I had t-shirts printed for my future rock band “The Just Right” I wanted to make sure I knew just what “The Just Right” building housed back in the day.
Thanks to Darren Toth aka @Yinztergram on Instagram and Twitter, who left a comment on my photow with a detailed and colorful history of this corner shop in Oakland.
The building upstairs served as the Oakland Board of Trade, i.e. the local businessman’s organization around the turn of the 20th Century. In 1904 a guy named Edwin Edwards opened up a tobacco shop on the corner, and next door at 3803 was a Tailor Shop, which changed hand a few times before it became known as, “The Just Right Tailoring and Cleaning Company” under an owner named Goldberg. Gus Miller took over the corner shop sometime between 1910 and 1911, and ran the shop pretty much as it was until he retired in 1967, passing the business on to his daughter, Myrtle Mae Miller, who retired in 1985, and died shortly thereafter in 1987. Myrtle was the woman behind the idea of “The Green Weenie“, a sort of precursor to, “The Terrible Towel”, popularized by sports commentator, Bob Prince. It was a green plastic hot dog shaped rattle that was used by Pirate fans in the 1960s at Forbes Field to jinx the other team. Not sure how waving wieners would fly today, but I imagine if you could find an original green weenie in good shape, you could make a few bucs on it…get it? “Bucs”? Eh, anyway, hope that clears it up a bit.
Gus Miller’s 1950s
From the Historic Society of Western Pennsylvania, here is a photo of the same building in the 1950s.
The caption notes that the Pitt Towers dorms were under construction. According to Wikipedia, the towers were completed in 1963, so this photo is probably early 1960s.
The Green Weenie
You can read a whole lot more about the Green Weenie over on The Terrible Blogger. In case you were wondering, the original 1966 Green Wennies are selling for $20-25 on ebay.
Corner of Forbes and Oakland Today
Using the Google Street view history, it looks like the awnings were removed from the building in July 2014.
This post is part of our series on historic Pittsburgh buildings for preservation month. You might be interested in reading about some of the other historic buildings that are located in Oakland: