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HISTORICAL HOUSTON:
Houston’s “M” Day


The front of an original Black Gold Certificate from the collection of Barbara Bell Lewis.

By Amy Ahlbrand Robinson

On July 3, 1954, Houston’s population hit one million. The Houston Chamber of Commerce issued a “Black Gold Certificate” and labeled the event “M” Day. Mayor Roy Hofheinz was in his second year in office and Howard Tellepson was the president of the Houston Chamber of Commerce. Houston was then known as the “Air-conditioned Convention City of the South – Where a Million is Only a Milestone.”

Millionaires for a Day

The certificate provided “equal opportunity for a million residents of Metropolitan Houston to be Millionaires for a day.” The Houston Chamber of Commerce’s marketing highlighted Houston’s strengths in 1954, which included the Medical Center, radio & television, advertising, universities, fishing, cattle, steel, sports and of course, oil.

Hard to Redeem

Adding a little mid-century humor, the “Million Houston Bucks” was ONLY “Redeemable for full value by any person born in Houston on August 30, 1836″ — the day brothers John K. and Augustus C. Allen founded Houston. The final stipulation, however, clinched the deal: “If accompanied by BOTH parents.”

The back features symbols representing 1954 Houston.

 

 

 

Houston’s “M” Day


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