The Pep Boys: Philly Legends
Whenever I think of Pep Boys, I recall its old house brands - Cornell Tires, Cadet batteries, Pure-as-Gold motor oil, Varsity auto accessories and Dur-Alloy mufflers. Pep Boys started in Philadelphia in August 1921 when some Navy buddies chipped in $200 apiece to open a single auto parts store. They dubbed it Pep Auto Supply Company after noticing a shipment of Pep Valve grinding compound on the shelves.
By the way, Manny, Moe and Jack were real-life people - the founders of Pep Boys. The original Pep Boys were Emmanuel 'Manny' Rosenfeld, Maurice 'Moe' Strauss, Graham 'Jack' Jackson, and Moe Radavitz. After a coupe of years, Radavitz had cashed out, leaving three Pep Boys.
In 1933, Moe Strauss moved to Southern California and opened stores there, but Pep Boys is virtually unknown elsewhere. (Manny Rosenfeld - the one with the glasses and cigar - ran the Philly operation; Jack Jackson left the company in the 1930s.) Pep Boys tried to penetrate the Vancouver, WA market in 2000, but closed the store after less than a year.
Growing up, I used to get my bike accessories and tire repair kits at the Pep Boys on the corner of Frankford Avenue and Friendship St. in the Mayfair section of Northeast Philly (photo above). A business acquaintance worked for Moe in the 1970s and said Moe was quite a character, even as an old man.
Jack was a kind-of mystery man. An old friend from high school once worked at a Philadelphia flower shop where Jack Jackson was a regular customer. He claims that Jack was the gay Pep Boy. But another old Philly friend, adamantly insists that Jack was quite the ladies' man.
In any case, he apparently was a nice enough guy to buy flowers for his dates ... whatever their gender. (posted 4/25/05)
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If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive.
If I have slandered any people or corporations, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal) and try to prove to me that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.
Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.