Posted by Hayley Holland and Jillian Bertolucci
In 1921, just 13 years after the Model T Ford was released, four buddies from the Navy scraped up $800 with intent to build an auto parts supply store in Philadelphia called Pep Auto Supply. In their wildest dreams did they ever think that single store would evolve into a multi-billion dollar nationwide retail and service chain. Eighty-seven years later, Pep Boys has 580 stores in the United States and even Puerto Rico.
The famous tag line “The Pep Boys” arose when a police officer on 63rd and Market St. in Philadelphia would ticket motorist for driving without headlights. The Pep Boys had their friendly faces in common with only a few others including the Pillsbury Dough Boy and the Michelin Man.
Fast-forward 21 years to 1948 when our very own Downtown Fresno Pep Boys opened its doors. In 1948, a gallon of gasoline was 26 cents. The average price of a car was $2,000. Minimum Wage was 40 cents per hour. In this same year, Harold Dennis began working here, and he is still proudly servicing cars today.
After a few months on the job, Harold was cleaning the back room when three men walked in. Harold told the men that the area was off-limits to customers and had them enter through the front.
Take a guess at whom those three men were. You guessed it, it was the Pep Boys! Manny, Moe and Jack told the manager that they appreciated that Harold was a stickler for the rules and protected their assets.
Harold is a permanent fixture of Fresno. So much so, that Aug. 23 has been declared “Harold Dennis Day” in the city. Council Member Sal Quintero said he presented Harold with this honor last year for touching the lives of so many residents.
“I consider him to be one of our local treasures,” Quintero said. We agree.
Now in his eighties, Harold has cut back to working only Fridays, but with the same passion for life and automobiles.
Harold’s motto says it all: “If a task is once begun, never leave it undone. Be the laborer, great or small; do it well or not at all.”
His motto and his attitude have rubbed off on the rest of the employees at Pep Boys on Mono and Broadway Streets, especially manager Eliana Cantu.
Cantu enjoys working with predominantly males every day and feels their location is like a family. “We watch out for each other and work as a team instead of boys vs. girls,” Cantu said.