Just as with any business, there is a history. Where it all started, how it started and how it became who they are today. Long before the first "Welcome to Cooper Music" ever chimed the ears of a piano buyer, the history of the Cooper Family began. For the next few months, I will share with you, every Friday a special blog, containing the history of the Cooper family and creation of Cooper Music. We hope that you enjoy reading as Cooper Music is brought to life with memories.
CHRISTMAS STORIES TOLD AT MY FATHER’S KNEE
BY ISABELLA BLAKE COOPER
It was Christmas Eve. John Cooper waited for the piano movers. A customer wanted Cooper Music to play Santa Claus and deliver a piano at midnight! The Coopers knew in a moment they must act as St. Nick. Exhausted, John sat down, waiting for the last truck to return. The snowy night tweaked his memory. He desperately wanted the employee waiting with him to feel hopeful and optimistic. John, an inveterate storyteller, began this story.
It was on a WW1 battlefield in France. The French and Scottish regiments were holding the trenches against the German advance. However, the officers from both sides negotiated a cease fire for it was now Christmas Eve. Both sides had special food, chocolates, sweets and liquor sent down. As the snowflakes drifted down, a German began to sing “Stille Nacht." The musical notes mingled with the snowflakes. It seemed warmer. A sound of bagpipes drifted across “no man’s land” echoing “Silent Night." One by one, the French soldiers began to warily peek from behind the barricade. Then the Piper, followed by his Scottish comrades, slowly and cautiously stood up. Men from both sides crossed the battlefields, exchanging chocolates, cigarettes, Scotch, Schnapps and French Wine. They shared a quiet peaceful Christmas Eve. When night turned to morning and words turned silent, they reluctantly trudged back to their foxholes.
The story was finished and John stood up because he saw Dick Korber, the piano tuner at the Cooper Music door with a “never before seen” smile on his face. Dick Korber was a German immigrant from war-ravaged Europe. He barely made the much sought after quota into the Untied States after the war. One reason he did have was that he was a professional, piano tuner. This Christmas Eve Dick was asked to tune the new pianos being delivered. While moving pianos they would perhaps be jostled out of tune. Cooper Music wanted the pianos delivered in performance condition. By this time, Herr Korber was “out of tune”. Nonstop work, “don’t these people realize this is Christmas Eve too? Mein Gott. I will be up till 6:00 assembling a bike for my son”." Nevertheless, the piano tuner headed out the door.
He headed for a little mining town outside New Kensington. Round about midnight, he slipped in the sleet and snow and fell against the last customer’s door. The door was opened by a man with a recognizable French accent. “Gutt Evening." said Dick. While greeting Dick the Frenchman stared at him. Dick would never get used to the hostility. Americans were still singing “Over There." Korber knew it was not so long ago. He thought, “I am not the enemy. I am an now American, too.”
Dick asked where the piano was and was ushered into the living room. He sat down at the new piano, removing his shiny piano tuning tools. He informed the master of the house that there was no need for him to stay. Ignoring Dick, the Frenchman staked out his claim in a comfortable easy chair and continued his steady gaze. Dick nervously finished the tuning, thank God, turned and said, “What?"
The Frenchman rose from his chair, warily crossed over the floor and offered a glass of wine. He said, “Monsieur, you were there, in the trenches, that Christmas Eve, weren’t you?" Dick, with a closer look, widened his eyes and nodded, yes. The Frenchman sat on the glossy black piano bench. Dick thought he was checking the piano tuning. The Frenchman played the piano melody, as snowflakes falling on the ground. “Silent Night” renewing that remembered Christmas Eve event. It was the same!