Only in York County

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Even more memories of Joe, the Motorists’ Friend, and memories of Pep Boys

Our post earlier this month on Joe, the Motorists’ Friend, continued to draw out even more memories of this store.

Here’s what I know: I’ve never been to a “Joe’s,” but I wish I had been able to. You guys make it sound cool!

Jamie Oberdick says, “I remember it well. Two things – That rubber smell. Going in there with my father, I felt like I was in the realm of a grown-up guy like my dad. And, does anyone recall the sign? The J-O-E would light up then the Motorist Friend part, and I remember it would do something similar to the ‘snow’ on an old TV. To a little boy, it was kind of mesmerizing.”

I love getting comments from “abroad,” and new commenter Dean Rohrbaugh‘s thoughts were no exception. He writes, “I’m in Zermatt, Switzerland, a long distance from the Joe the Motorist store that once existed in the York County Shopping Center. As I sit here watching the snow come down, I remember my Dad taking me to that store and looking at the toys and bicycles. The Joe the Motorist neon sign was special in its on way. It was nothing the size of a Toys-R-Us but it always felt like such a magical place particularly at Christmas time. I regularly watched the Joe-sponsored Santa show, which I believe may have been on one of the Harrisburg stations. At the end of each show I remember him waving goodbye with a slow movement of his hand. At Christmas Joe’s ranks there with the Christmas albums we would buy at the Firestone and Goodyear store along with a special treat of an orange and a box of Mrs. Holland’s candy from Shrewsbury. For toys I always loved the McCrory’s and Woolworth’s in downtown York. I have long since moved from York County and I get to travel to some great places but the memories of Christmas past in York County always hold a special place for me this time of year.”

I found this photo of a 1960s bicycle with chrome fenders just for you guys! Maybe it’s a little older than you’re thinking of, but I’m not sure! (Photo by flickr user Adam Lerner)

And John Loeper remembers not only Joe’s, but another downtown establishment of the same type. “Now that I think about it, there were also Joe’s stores on South George Street in York city and in Red Lion. I bet (previous commenter) Bridget’s dad worked at the store on South George Street. I had to deliver or pick up stuff at that store from time to time and I remember it always smelled of new tires. Bridget also mentioned her dad later went to work for Pep Boys on South George Street in York. They had really good stuff for bikes and as a youth I spend a large portion of my meager allowance at Pep Boys buying stuff for my bike. I wonder if any of the guys remember “death knobs”? Adults put them on their steering wheels and kids put them on their handle bars. Some had pictures of women wearing next to nothing, but little boys were not allowed to buy them. I remember, chrome bike fenders were really cool. I think the York Pep Boys was either next to or very near Sol Kessler’s stereo shop.”

Thank you all for sharing! I’m definitely interested in more Pep Boys memories, too, so please feel free to add those along with your “Joe’s” stories.

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