Ask Me: Casner Drug stores eased ailments in Fresno for decades

The Fresno BeeFebruary 8, 2014 

Question: I worked as a pharmacist for Casner Drug stores from 1956 to the early 70s, but I'm curious about the company's early years.

-- Elmer Koch, Fresno

Answer: A 1967 handwritten note in The Bee's clip file for Casner Drug included a history of the store's early days given to a Bee librarian by Vernon Casner, a son of the founder.

Edward R. Casner Sr. was part-owner of the San Joaquin Drug Store -- which had the Valley's first soda fountain -- in 1902 and opened the first Casner Drug store in 1906 at Van Ness Avenue and Mariposa Street. It closed in 1948.

In 1918, Casner opened a second store in the Proctor Building at the southwest corner of Fulton and Fresno streets, the note says.

That store closed in 1928 when the third store opened "on the corner that Roos Bros. is in." Roos Bros. was at Fulton and Merced Street.

The third store closed in 1938 when the fourth store opened at the northeast corner of Fulton and Fresno, "known as the Casner Corner," the note says. That store closed in 1965.

By 1967, Casner Drug had three stores: at Blackstone and Shaw, Cedar and Shields, and Clovis and Shaw avenues.

A 1967 advertisement for Casner Drug included photos of Edward Casner Sr., his wife Rose and their sons, Jack, company president, Vernon, secretary-treasurer, and Edward Jr., retired.

Q: We recently found a small token for the Fresno Municipal Lines. How much did it cost? When did the Municipal Lines run and where did they go?

-- William and Kim Lee, Fresno

A: The Fresno Municipal Lines bus service ran for six years starting in 1961 -- when the city of Fresno took over operation of the bus service from the privately owned Fresno City Lines -- to 1967.

Eight bus routes covered the city of Fresno, from Minarets Avenue in the north, Jensen Avenue in the south, Fresno Air Terminal in the east and Hughes Avenue in the west.

A one-way adult fare was 20 cents, which riders could pay with cash, or they could use tokens as a convenience, according to an Oct. 25, 1961 story in The Bee. In 1962, the fare increased to 25 cents.

To dedicate the new service on Oct. 31, 1961, busloads of people were brought from across the city to the Fresno Memorial Auditorium at Fresno and N streets for coffee, doughnuts and a ribbon-cutting by Mayor Arthur L. Selland.

After the opening ceremonies, buses were on display at shopping centers around town. Each bus had "a hostess from the Jay-Cee-Etts and a driver present to answer questions," The Bee said. The "Jay-Cee-Etts" was the auxiliary to the Junior Chamber, or Jaycees.

The "Fresno Muny," as the service became known, had 47 buses including 10 new air-conditioned buses, The Bee said. Old buses got a new paint job.

Regular service on the Muny began on Nov. 1, 1961, and rides were free all day. In 1967, the city changed the name of the bus system to Fresno Transit.

Q: At Holy Cross Cemetery recently I saw four large headstones for members of the Veith family. What did this family do in Fresno?

-- Lu Caglia, Fresno

A: Dora Veith, her sons Ted and George and his wife, Muriel, are buried at Holy Cross Cemetery. The Veith family came to the Valley from Austria. The brothers were businessmen and active in community organizations.

Dora W. Veith was born in 1882. Theodore Francis "Ted" Veith was born in 1910 and became a Fresno real estate developer. He died in 1956 at home.

Fresno police said the cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 46.

George W. Veith was born in Austria in 1909. According to his obituary in The Bee, his father was Count George von Veith, a consul general for Austria-Hungary in Milwaukee before the family moved to a Fresno-area ranch.

George Veith became an American citizen in 1927 while attending Fresno State College. His father died in 1929.

George Veith worked in public relations, opened an advertising agency in 1930 and later founded the Veith Chemical Co.

He served on the advisory board of the original Saint Agnes Hospital at Fruit and Floradora avenues and was chairman of the building campaign for Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church. In the late 1950s, Veith was chairman of the Hungarian Relief and Red Cross fund drives.

Muriel Veith died in 1958. When George Veith died in 1966, his mother Dora was listed as his only survivor. She died in 1977.

Ask Me publishes on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Paula Lloyd is a freelance writer. Send questions to askpaulalloyd@yahoo.com or by mail to Paula Lloyd, c/o The Fresno Bee Newsroom, 1626 E St., Fresno CA 93786. Please include your name, city of residence and a phone number.

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