06/01/2005 - "I can remember when..." Floyd Harnagel reminisces with a twinkle in his eye.
A Casper resident for 72 years, he has seen many changes. "I was hatched here," he grins. "I was born on West Midwest in a section house. I used to walk to Park School."
An accomplished musician, Floyd holds a music degree in piano from the Chicago Conservatory. He also plays oboe, clarinet, saxophone, drums and organ. He is one of the originators of the Casper Civic Symphony and at one time, entertained the idea of a career in music. But, his father wanted him to go into pharmacy.
Floyd started with Bi-Rite in 1950, obtained his pharmaceutical degree in 1951 from the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and purchased Bi-Rite in 1960. Floyd and his wife, Iris, (also a pharmacist) will celebrate their 40th anniversary in September. Iris moved to Casper in 1960 to accept a job offered by the hospital, from Boulder, Colorado where she graduated with her degree in pharmacy.
She enjoyed working at the hospital... "the doctors were wonderful," she explains.
But on a blind date set up by Jack Tripeny, of Tripeny Drug Store (located in Casper at the time), Floyd apparently won more than Iris' heart. He also convinced her to go to work for Bi-Rite in 1963 and she's been there ever since!
Iris also contributed to the community by working for Meals on Wheels when it first started in Casper.
"Casper's been good to us," Iris relates. "I like the friendliness of the people, the change in seasons, and I don't mind the wind – it keeps the pollution out." She says she also likes the fact that Casper's a "fair size" yet "not huge", and that there's a "lot of talent here".
Floyd says Casper is "better than any place I've ever traveled, and I've traveled all over the world."
Floyd served in Korea for two years in the Army Finance Corp, returning to Casper after his discharge in San Francisco.
He used to be president of Intermountain Wholesale. "This is the mother store," Floyd explains. There were sister Bi-Rite stores in Sheridan, Riverton, Rawlins and Rock Springs.
Through the years Floyd bought out Tripeny Drug Store, Gladstone, Casper Pharmacy, Horn Drug and Casper Veterinary Supply, among others.
Continuing his reminiscing, Floyd says, "I can remember in 1945 when the war ended and thousands of people crowded onto Center Street to celebrate. No woman ever walked on the west side of Center Street because there were so many bars there and GI's were not allowed on that side of the street. After about noon on Saturday the women always wore hats and gloves."
Times have changed, but Casper's still the same great place thanks to peope like Floyd and Iris Harnagel, who have spent their lives here working to serve our