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.
WILL COOPER, IN GOOD HEALTH, THEN TENDERED A TRADE FOR OLD DEBTS TO BANKER SMITH
The Cooper family now faced concern for the health of their older brother. Will, facing a reduced role in the business, suffered depression and obesity. The decline in the sale of expensive pianos and phonographs eliminated his starring role in the Cooper Brothers lineup. John’s emerging leadership did not result in sibling dessention or replace concerns for Will’s health.
John made arrangements to send Will to a private nursing home named San Rosario in Cambridge Springs PA. Catholic Sisters from the Erie PA diocese operated the sanitarium. Brother Will, an avowed protestant Christidelphian teacher and lay preacher was too weak to resist his brother’s orders. John had carefully managed the company finances to enable the extended confinement and to also care for Will’s family while he was away. The care and supervision of his new life style, by the Sisters, substantially restored his health. Will lost weight and more importantly recovered his outlook on life. After many weeks he returned home to a new assignment from brother John.
John had never forgotten the financial blows from the bankers and the Depression years. He was determined to erase that financial disaster from the records. Their radio station, WKPA, had recovered ownership of the building but there remained the large unpaid Cooper Music notes, held by the Bank, left over from Depression years. When Will returned from San Rosario Nursing Home John saw, in brother, Will, a plan.
Will had been away for many weeks. John looked at Will standing there in a now diminutive frame. John remarked, Will’s spirits were good but his now oversized clothing hung on him like a garden scarecrow. The town knew of Will’s illness and extended confinement. Friends and family were shocked by his new appearance.
The plan. John said to his brother, “The business has set aside an amount of cash to make an offer to settle the notes held at the Logan Trust Bank." Will looking, at the cash, replied, “A good sum of cash but this isn’t nearly enough to pay off the notes." . John said, “Right, but there is the old Community Savings stock we could throw in on the deal. There has been talk around town that the Mellon Bank is interested in Logan Bank. Since Logan Bank acquired Community we have been stonewalled by Logan owners from obtaining anything for Community stock. Right? Now Will, you know nobody loves bank stock more than a banker, especially now, when banker Burns Smith is hoping for a merger with the Mellon Bank .”
Will agreed, with a forlorn satchel, stuffed with cash and stock, and his equally forlorn appearance, trudged up 5th Ave to the Bank. Will walked in the bank amid looks of shock and sympathy.
“Hello Will, welcome back." said old bank collector Burns Smith, through his Marsh-Wheeling stogie. “Heard you weren’t feeling well? You appear to have had a difficult time. What can we do for you?"
Will spoke, “Thank you for your interest. It hasn’t been an easy time. Now, I am putting my affairs in order, I am here to settle old debts."
Burn Smith, taken back, assuming the worst for Will Cooper, must have thought Will’s time had come. Smith was reacting as brother John had anticipated. The two sat silently across the desk from each other. Will opened the worn case. Will, stacking up the cash and spreading stock certificates, from his satchel, continued.
“I have here a sum of cash and these Community Bank Stock Certificates, in offer of final settlement of all Cooper Brother’s debts."
The Banker Smith, in a practiced calm, scanned the pile of cash. However, he held a lustful gaze on the artfully engrave stock certificates. In a condescending, smoke filled tone, said to Will, “Will, you are making an offer, in your time of concern, that will be timely considered by the Bank." Quickly adding, ”Are these all you have of your Community Bank Stock Certificates?"
“Yes." said Will, gaining confidence in the progress of the negotiation, “Can we exchange all, cash and stock, for the Cooper Music notes, now? "
With that, the Banker Smith called and ordered all the Cooper Music notes to be retrieved from the vault. When they returned Will quietly inventoried the notes upon the desk and spoke,
“Where are the personal notes due from my father Johnathon, brother John and myself, they should be included . May we have them? "
“Done” said Burns Smith, impatiently, concluding silently to himself, “A good days work, because Will Cooper might die." After returning from the vault with the remaining notes he picked up the cash and Stock Certificates and dismissed Will from the brief conversation. “Good after noon. We hope you get better."
Will Cooper walked back to the 810 Fifth Ave. store with a lighter step, bringing great news for the family. Out of debt! After ten years of determined struggle the Depression was over for Cooper Music. From 1929, “Brother Can You Spare A Dime”, to 1940, “Happy Days Are Here Again”!
A radio address in 1938, Roosevelt reminded the American people that: Democracy has disappeared in several other great nations, not because the people of those nations disliked democracy, but because they had grown tired of unemployment and insecurity, of seeing their children hungry while they sat helpless in the face of government confusion and government weakness through lack of leadership…. Finally, in desperation, they chose to sacrifice liberty in the hope of getting something to eat. We in America know that our democratic institutions can be preserved and made to work. Cooper Music always felt that the company could be preserved and made to greatness.