Our founder, Harold “Groucho” Miller was a strong believer of giving back to his community. Groucho learned at an early age in a Philadelphia orphanage, that the people you encounter in your neighborhood, are the same folks who look after you when times are tough. He carried this ideology to Columbia SC when he relocated his family to open Groucho’s Deli in 1941. He immediately joined charities to help the needy, and his efforts were embraced by his new community. He helped everyone he could, focusing on obvious needs within the 5 mile radius near his home and business.
His two main charity campaigns were on behalf of “Good fellows” at Christmas time and Buck-A-Cup to Brace-A-Child, around Easter time. We thought our Groucho’s Deli followers would enjoy this story from our historical archives. Written about Groucho by his friend Harriet Rose Lowe in 1964, it is a great depiction of the philanthropy Groucho’s Deli was founded on.
Harriet Rose Lowe | English Theme 4 |December 2, 1964 | Uncle Harold
His name is Harold C. Miller and he owns a delicatessen in Colombia, South Carolina. He is short and stocky; he wears large, dark-rimmed glasses and a gray mustache. Because of his resemblance to a well-known radio personality, he is known to many people throughout the state as “Groucho.” To complete the picture, he invariable chews on a big black cigar.
When I was ten my family moved into the same block where “Groucho” lived. My first encounter with him occurred on the street in front of my house when he literally ran into my wheel chair. He said, “Hi, Sugar. What’s your name?” My speech at the time was very difficult, and he could not understand what I said. He hollered to one of the neighbors, “Who is this child, and what is her name?” Somebody told him, and we became fast friends.
A day or two later he and his wife called on our family to welcome us. Meanwhile Mr. Miller had made inquiries about my condition; he seemed to have developed an affection for me at once. He wanted to be called by his first name, but my parents strongly objected.
“Well, then,” he roared in his characteristic loud voice, “she will have to call me ‘Uncle Harold.’ I will not stand for her to call me ‘Mr. Miller.’”
About six months after our first meeting, my parents spent an evening with Uncle Harold and his wife, Aunt Ethel. My father persuaded Uncle Harold to become interested in the “BAC” campaign for Easter Seal Society for Crippled Children. Father said, “If you can do as well as you do for the Good-fellows’ Club at Christmas time, I know you can raise an enormous amount for this cause.”
Uncle Harold took this as a challenge. Every year since then he has been active in the “Buck-a-cup,” of “Brace-a-Child” campaign. And has raised more money than any other man in South Carolina.
At Easter time “Groucho” is a familiar figure around Five Points. His store is located between the bank and the drug store. Mr. Miller, his clothing literally covered with BAC buttons, patrols the street, with a money jar in one hand and a pair of braces in the other. Nobody gets by without making a contribution and receiving a button. That button, by the way, entitles its wearer to a free cup of coffee anywhere in town on Good Friday.
“Groucho” is an honorary member of many civic organizations in town, honorary “Mayor” of Five Points, and an honorary member of the police force. Consequently, he holds a prominent position at most public functions. Recently, however, he met his match when he tried to get close to President Johnson on a campaign visit to Columbia. The F.B.I. man stopped him as he tried to go under the ropes.
“Do you have any concealed weapons? Where are your credentials?” asked the government man. Uncle Harold searched his pockets and found a card saying, “This certifies that Harold C. Miller is an honorary policeman.” Unfortunately, in very small print the card also read: “The above named is entitled to carry a concealed weapon.”
Disappointed in his attempt to share the limelight with the President, Uncle Harold went home and related the incident to his wife. Aunt Ethel said, “Why, Harold, you don’t even know how to load a pistol, much less shoot one!” There are three main reasons why Harold C. Miller lives. They are his family, his two charity campaigns, and to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He is Jewish; he is deeply religious man; and he reveals his fine character every day of his life.
The Groucho’s® Deli Vision
To maintain and grow our legendary restaurant status by providing the same quality experience for generations and upholding our tradition to give back to the communities we serve.
Groucho’s® Gives Back
The “Groucho’s® Gives Back” concept is a key component of each Groucho’s® Deli Franchised location. Groucho’s® Franchise Systems emphasizes the desire for each unit to engage and support its local community. If you have a cause or organization within the community that we serve and would like to partner with us on a % night or event, please COMPLETE THIS FORM and your local neighborhood deli will be in touch.