A step ahead of the law: Growing the business


EDS NOTE: This is the third article in a weekly, multi-part series retelling some of Don Wright’s history in Greenville as he remembers it.

In 1964, Bob Cooper told me that Pete and Sally Petry’s Golden Cat Bar on the traffic circle was for sale. He said he would loan me the money to buy the business and I could pay him back out of my half of the machine money.

I found myself in the bar business. I had never drank or hung out in bars. I had no idea what I was doing. I named it the Office Bar.

The first Friday, day and night, I took in $27. I was bored to death listening to drunks. This place needed to come alive.

The next Wednesday night at 9 p.m., a beautiful woman walked into the Office Bar wearing a thin, white summer dress. She sat alone and rebuffed all advances made by the few customers I had. She went to play a song on the jukebox and the lights in front of her made it obvious that she didn’t have anything on underneath.

People lined up at the pay phone as my customers went crazy calling their friends. More people started to come in. When the room was about full the woman went upstairs to where her room was.

I turned up the music full blast and locked the front door. She came downstairs buck naked and danced through the crowd to three songs, picked up her clothes and walked out the front door and across the sidewalk to a waiting car.

The Office Bar went crazy.

She cost me $100 for two hours. One of my finest investments.

The next Friday night shift alone brought in $440. Beer was 30 cents a bottle and whiskey was 35 cents and up per drink.

The Office Bar became famous and a cash cow. I milked that cow for years.

A soldier came back from Vietnam and said he saw a sign written on a restroom wall in Saigon that read, “Eight thousand miles from Saigon to the Office Bar in Greenville, Ohio.”

I heard about go-go girls in California. I built a cage and was the first bar in this area to hire dancers full time.

Greenville was like a wild west cow town in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. In Ohio, there was 3.2 beer that 18 to 21 year olds could drink. In Indiana, you had to be 21 and the bars were closed on Sunday. Being close to the border, all the bars in Greenville stayed busy.

In 1967 Cooper said to me, “Save your money. In two years I want to retire and Katie wants to move to Florida.”

For the next two years I piled up every dollar I could save. I knew it would take a substantial amount of money to buy Cooper Music. Back then, the way you bought a vending company was to offer the value of the equipment plus 52 times what your average weekly gross totaled.

Two years passed and Bob said, “I’m really feeling good and healthy, I think I will go another year.”

“Bob, every year you have had a birthday, I’ve had one. I’m not a kid anymore. I won’t wait any longer than next year,” I said.

The next year Bob told me he just wasn’t ready to sell yet.

He wasn’t happy when I informed him that I had all ready started a company later to be known as Treaty City Coin. I had a service man in school at the time.

I had the cash to buy him out. He could take his equipment out of my locations or keep his word. Bob just couldn’t give up the business. I assured him that I would never try to get any of his locations and I didn’t.

I used the money I had saved to expand Treaty City Coin.

Besides the Office Bar in Greenville I bought bars in Union City, Covington, Piqua and Sidney outright and was a silent partner in several others. Of course, all were Treaty City Coin locations.

Cooper continued to operate Cooper Music until he got cancer and died. After he died, I went to see Katie and she told me that Bob had made arrangements with Lew Jones, a music and games distributor in Indianapolis, to appraise Cooper Music and she was to sell it to me for 10 cents on the dollar.

Cooper told her I was the only person he had ever broken his word to and he wanted to make it up to me. I told Katie I didn’t have the money to buy the company. I had been using every dollar I could get to expand my own company.

“Pay me what you can, when you can. I don’t need the money,” she said.

I bought Cooper Music and merged it with Treaty City Coin. With the purchase of Cooper Music, Treaty City Coin was now operating in Darke, Preble, Miami, Shelby, Logan, and Mercer counties.

An amazing thing happened at the closing. She hadn’t put Cooper’s new pickup truck in the inventory. Hugh Staley was her attorney.

“I’m giving him the truck,” she told Hugh.

He tried to talk her out of it.

“Hugh, I don’t want the damn truck and I don’t need the money,” she said.

I stayed close to Katie Cooper for as long as she lived.

Only the very old people in Darke County will remember what I’m about to tell about the Coopers.

Out on Wagner Avenue there is a small Spanish house. Long before I came to town that’s where the Coopers lived. One night two men and a woman got into their house, got the drop on Bob and tied both, him and Katie, up to chairs. When they couldn’t find any real money they beat Bob up. He wouldn’t tell them where the money was. They took a pair of pliers and pulled some of his teeth. He still wouldn’t tell.

One man put a 45 pistol under Katie’s chair and told him it was the money or he would blow his playhouse to hell. Bob talked and they left with over $100,000. Bob had a friend that was a retired F.B.I. agent; he tracked the robbers down and got back most of the money.

This is all Bob ever told me about the robbery.


By Don Wright

A step ahead of the law

Don Wright is the president of Wright Enterprises Incorporated founded on April 24, 1956. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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