texaco refinery

My Aunt Jeanette Byer has always been a sweet person, who was easy to get along with, and yet she was also a hard working, and really tough lady when she needed to be. For most of the years of my memory, she and my Uncle Larry lived on a piece of land east of Casper where they raised their two children, Larry and Tina. They really loved their place out in the country, but as life sometimes shows us, change happens. The job at the Texaco Refinery in Casper, Wyoming was closing, and Uncle Larry was offered a transfer to Louisiana. So they packed up their home and moved to the New Orleans area. They split up their property between their two kids, as settled down in their new home, and Uncle Larry to his new job. There were also trips here and there, seeing all the sights in their new home. Louisiana is, of course, a beautiful state.

Louisiana was a big change for to small city people from the much colder state of Wyoming. One big change is the difference in the level of humidity, which is quite high in Louisiana. I’m sure it was a bit of a transition for them. I know that when my parents visited them there, my mom, Collene Spencer noticed a feeling of difficulty breathing. It wasn’t serious, just that the added humidity made the air feel heavy, and difficult to breathe in. Aunt Jeanette told her that is was something you get used to, and I’m sure it is, and the time spent there for a visit would not give you enough time to do so. Aunt Jeanette also told her that the humidity made you feel wet right after you dried off after showering. While the warmer weather would be nice, I don’t know if the humidity would be a good trade off to get it.

I think that Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry felt the same way, because when he retired, they headed back to good ole’ Wyoming. Of course, their children and grandchildren are still in the Casper, Wyoming area, so that gave an incentive to move back. We, the family, were all glad they were back too. Louisiana is really far from Wyoming, and we missed them. They moved their things back to Casper over two summers, and on the second trip, they stayed. Uncle Larry passed away, on December 22, 2011, but we still have Aunt Jeanette with us. She is in good health and doing well.  I even came across her high school graduation picture as I was contemplating my story. Wasn’t she beautiful!! Today is Aunt Jeanette’s 84th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Uncle Larry and Aunt JeanetteMy Aunt Jeanette Byer was friends with my mom and her sisters and brothers for a long time before she and my Uncle Larry Byer fell in love. In those days, I think is was much more common for spouses to know each other for much of their lives. In many ways, I think that is very cool. Growing up friends first can make for a long lasting marriage. I think that is exactly what my aunt and uncle were…friends. They liked being together, sharing the hopes and dreams they had for their lives, and going places together. For many years they lived on a piece of land east of Casper, and Uncle Larry worked at the Texaco Refinery. They raised their two children there…my cousins, Larry and Tina. Then, everything changed.

CCI06282012_00027_editedbTheir kids were grown and married, of course, but when it came down to a transfer to Louisiana, or being laid off, Uncle Larry had to take the transfer. He was too close to retirement age to lose it all. So for the next few years, they lived in Louisiana. It was quite a change of climate for them. Having lived in Wyoming for all of their lives, the high humidity of Louisiana was a shock to their systems. In fact, Aunt Jeanette once told my mom that while it seemed hard to breathe, it was something you got used to after a time. I suppose that is true, but getting used to it didn’t stop them from wanting to come back to Wyoming as soon as Uncle Larry retired.

Of course, their family was here, so it makes perfect sense to me. Wanting to be around family is one of the Grandma Byer and Aunt Jeanettemost important things there is. It can’t always be that families stay together, but when it isn’t possible, I think that most parents would do the best they can to get that family back together, and when they can’t, then the visits are the most important thing they can do instead. There were a number of visits both ways, with their kids, and with other family members. My mom, dad, and sisters went down for a visit, and had a great time. I also know that Grandma Byer, went down for a visit, and had a great time too. Still, it wasn’t the same, and as soon as they could, Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry headed home to their family, and we are all glad they did Today in Aunt Jeanette’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Uncle Larry and Aunt JeanetteMarrying someone that you grew up with is not something most of us really expect to do, but that is what my Aunt Jeanette did, when she married my mom’s brother, my Uncle Larry. Mom said it was strange to have someone that had been an acquaintance suddenly become her sister-in-law…especially a high school acquaintance, because we just never really think those people will be in our lives much after graduation. Nevertheless, it does and did happen.

Over the years, Aunt Jeanette has become such a special part of this family. I love her laugh, and her special way with people. Until more recently though, I didn’t realize that she also shares her birthday with my husband, Bob. As our family grows and grows, that is becoming increasingly more common.

Aunt Jeanette joined our family as it hit a pretty major growth spurt. There were five or six of the kids who were having children at the same time. I was born into that bunch, having three male cousins born in close proximity to my birthday…Elmer was born in March of 1956, I was born in April of 1956, Forrest was born in July of 1956, and Larry was born in February of 1957. I’m not sure how I managed not to be a serious tomboy being surrounded by all of those boys, but somehow I really wasn’t so much.

When the Texaco Refinery closed and Uncle Larry decided to take the transfer to New Orleans, Louisiana, we were all very sad to see them go. It had been a number of years since any of Grandma and Grandpa’s kids had lived outside Wyoming, and it just seem like it was going to Virginia Beadle, Janette Byer, Forrest Beadle, Larry Wayne Byer, Ellen Johnson, Elmer Johnson, Deloris Johnsonbe forever, even though they assured us that it was just until his retirement. I just remember thinking that it was really sad, because they would be gone a long time. I’m many ways it was good for Grandma and for my family, because both went down to Louisiana to visit them, and had a very nice time.

Finally they returned to Wyoming for good, and Bob and I loved running into them every once in a while. It always seemed to be in someplace like Home Depot or Menard’s or something like that, but that’s ok too. When you have a big family, that is sometimes the best way to see each other. Today is Aunt Jeanette’s 78th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Casper Fire Department July 4, 1891While I am not a real Casper native, I have lived here since I was 3 years old. In a city that is 125 years old, that means that I have lived here for 44% of the years that Casper has existed. During my years here, I have learned that Casper was named after the fort that had existed here, called Fort Casper. Fort Casper was named after Lieutenant Caspar Collins, who was killed by Indians near the fort in 1865, but the Army misspelled his name. For anyone who has lived here very long…or at least attended public school here, that was common knowledge, as well as a school field trip most of us took. That fact was one of the first things a young student in Casper should know.

When the people of Casper first decided to incorporate, this was a pretty wild town. It was filled with mostly saloons, dancing girls, and prostitutes. That was really quite typical of most early wild west towns. The residents Casper asked the officials of Carbon County, where Casper was located until Natrona County split from Carbon County, if they could incorporate the town of Casper. The request was approved on July 8, 1889…125 years ago today, and Casper was born. Of course, the citizens of Casper knew that things would have to change because there Pioneer Drug Store 1892were things that made a town a proper town, and things that made it a lawless hangout. A proper town needed water, streets, schools, a fire department, a library, and a government to assure its stability. The people of Casper elected George Mitchell as mayor, and Robert White, Peter Demorest, Alexander McKinney and John Adams as councilmen. Before long Casper would be home to three county courthouses. The first one on David Street built in 1895, the second in the middle of North Center at A Street built in 1908, and the present county building on Center between A and B Streets was built in 1940.

In the early years cattle and sheep ranching was the main source of Casper’s wealth, and the most successful ranchers built the fine houses in Casper’s mansion district located south of the downtown area. Soon, however the wealth shifted more to oil, when the Salt Creek Field, 40 miles north of Casper, a rich source of oil, was discovered. Soon refineries went up, and Casper became a boom town. Much has changed over the years, and I’m sure that very little about Casper is like it used to be. I suppose that if the city founders could see it now, they would be amazed…or maybe they could see that potential all along. Casper 1As for me, I can recall many changes too. I remember when Walsh Drive was the edge of town. Kelly Walsh High School was almost on the prairie. I also remember when Kmart was being built…at the current Hobby Lobby location, and when it was built in its current location. I remember when the Texaco Refinery closed, and a lot of its workers, including my Uncle Larry took the transfer that would move him and my Aunt Jeanette to Louisiana for a number of years. Many businesses have come and gone over the years, as have people, but Casper has remained and thrived. Today is Casper’s 125th birthday. Happy birthday Casper!!!

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