Memories of Chick's Amoco in York - Only in York County - York Blog

Off and on, we’ve talked about gas and service stations of York County’s past, most recently last August when I shared my family’s memories of Ralph’s Exxon and

put out a call for others in the same vein.

(As a fun note, I received a Facebook message from a woman named Kristi after that column, who said Ralph was her grandfather. Thought that was neat!)

Among others who replied was reader Tom Gracey, sharing his memories of Chick’s Amoco. Tom had written in 2013 with some other memories of his old neighborhood, known as “The Gap,” in the area of Smith Street near Kiwanis Lake.

Regarding service stations, Tom wrote of Chick’s, “It was on the corner of Parkway Boulevard and Smith Street, a block away from Kiwanis Lake. It was owned and operated by Jennings P. Heffner. He was a cantankerous old Dutchman with a ‘my way or the highway’ mentality. He drove what may have been about a 1964 Ford Econoline pickup truck. It was a very strange-looking vehicle. He used to eat frequently at the Pensupreme Restaurant, which is now called the Central Restaurant on North George Street.”

Tom continued, “It was your typical full-service garage in 1967 when I worked there. I was 16. One dollar would get you 3.1 gallons of regular gasoline. You got your windows cleaned and oil checked as well. Not bad for a buck. We did car washes, tire repair, balancing and replacement, oil and filter change, lubrication (each Zirkle fitting had to be wiped clean before applying the grease gun), battery charging and replacement (you had to pour acid into new batteries then to charge them), tune-ups (install points and plugs mostly), replace wiper blades, fan belts, radiator and heater hoses, headlights and other light bulbs and install and repair tire chains when it snowed. Some cars had fender skirts and these had to come off and go back on to get the chains on. I wasn’t very fond of putting these on… ugh!”

When I’d shared my memories of Ralph’s, I mentioned the vending machines, and food featured in Tom’s memories of Chick’s as well. He wrote, “Inside you could purchase soda, assorted ice cream products, milk, TastyKakes, potato chips, Slim Jims, penny candy (in a locked cabinet), cigarettes, cigars, a rack with free maps of quite a few states and of course a large variety of automotive treatments and accessories. There was a pinball machine underneath the tire rack. Their was a rubber hose you would drive over at the pumps that rang a bell inside. It became a hangout for the neighborhood kids with cars, which I knew growing up on Smith Street myself. It became a local meeting place for everyone with their muscle cars of that era.”

He added, “It could get quite stressful working there at times, especially if I was the only one working. If there was a car in the garage I was working on, I would constantly be interrupted with someone at the gas pumps or little kids wanting penny candy or umpteen other things. I remember opening at 8 a.m. on Easter Sunday and closing at 10 p.m. Chick came in at 1 o’clock for an hour so I could go have Easter dinner at home. ‘Just make sure you are back by 2,’ he snarled, what a guy!”

Tom said Heffner, aka Chick, “was notorious for checking the gallon readings on the pumps. You better have everything rung up on the cash register correctly. If not and your money was short, it came out of your pay. Didn’t know it at the time, but he taught me not only how to work on cars but accountability, good work ethics and paying attention to detail. We could use a few more men like him today.”

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or write to Ask Joan, York Daily Record/Sunday News, 1891 Loucks Road, York PA 17408. We cannot accept any phone calls with questions or information.

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