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.
A PIANO FOR THE RAILROAD WIDOW
Cooper Music was in the piano business in a competitive business environment. The Allegheny Valley was a robust, busy place to be in the music business. Steel, glass, and coal industries ruled. The Cooper Music store had been able to establish an honest, trusted name in this smoky, noisy, world, at times populated by a quick buck piano salesman and dealer. The valley from Pittsburgh to Freeport was a collection of steel mills, glass factories, candy makers, meat packers, ketchup kitchens and aluminum makers, all producing daily boxcar shipments. A local railroad switch engine crew, engineer, conductor, and brakeman, collected the boxcars, building a freight train, to be hauled by main lines to world markets. The Freeport PA crew nightly shuttled boxcars until morning, then laying over at the Fort Pitt Hotel in Pittsburgh until the next night working back on the railroad boxcar shuttle to Freeport.
The Allegheny Valley piano buyers were fortunate to have several qualified dealers where they could shop, all well respected, except one. A Pittsburgh piano salesman, Pete Schraner, collected newspaper obituaries, watching for names of deceased railroaders who had a layover in the city. Knowing the deceased had Railroader Insurance he would show up on the Freeport widow’s doorstep. After introducing himself, offering condolences, he would hand the widow a credit for $50. He alleged that the Freeport PA railroader often stopped in his piano shop when on a layover in Pittsburgh. Schraner said he and the railroader became acquainted and that the deceased railroader had placed a deposit on a new piano in his shop for the family.
The scheming piano salesman exclaimed to the bereaving widow that the dead trainman always expressed a secret longing wish that the family would have a piano in their home. The widow was surprised and pleased to learn that her dear deceased husband had thought of a piano for the family. At this point the piano salesman Schraner would suggest to the widow that he would gladly assist her in the purchase.
As an empty gesture of condolence Schraner said he would double the deposit credit on the piano for the widow on that day, while he was in Freeport, if the widow would purchase. The deal, having been consummated, was delivered by Railway Express a couple of days later. A new piano for the railroad widow, but a poor mark by a shady dealer on honest piano-men.