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  Martinsville High School Alumni
Class of 1965 Message List
The Grease Pit Party.... - 12
02/23/12     Archie Thomasson  (1965)      Archer1710@msn.com
Ken Wilson and I were reminiscing several months ago, about a reunion band….I told him that Maurice Williams had his 50th year of entertaining last year, and that we saw him in Myrtle Beach. We both remembered ‘the grease pit party’, an event that probably changed the zoning laws in the ‘ville’. Ken was on the door that night….these are my recollection’s…..archie


I think it was 1968, or was it the fall of ‘67? It really doesn’t matter, as it was in Martinsville, Virginia…. in a garage on Bridge Street, where large shades, perhaps Japanese shades, were erected over the ‘grease pits’ of what was Richardson Pontiac (at some time). These shades were positioned to protect revelers from falling into open grease pits. There purpose proved more practical as the booze, the crooning, and the guitars blended together into ‘soul’ music, and nature yielded to the call. Blue double breasted sport coats, with hounds tooth slacks, and paisley ties, matched cocktail dresses, and heels, as we dipped to the rhythm of 60’s music, amid the puddles and the backdrop of what was the day before….a greasy garage.
At this time, Martinsville was on the ‘fast track’ emerging in a ‘world economy’. A world where Martinsville was ‘the furniture capitol of the world’, the ‘nylon capitol of the world’, the ‘sweat shirt capitol of the world’, a NASCAR capitol, and home to a proud and independent people, who had thrived in what was thought to be the greatest democracy the world had produced. The ‘ville was inhabited by people who had shared land with Patrick Henry, and had shown the world the opportunities that the end of World War II would present to emerging democracies. A people who had been told by their congressmen that we were entering a ‘new phase’ of development and that the world would now be our marketplace. Little did they know that we would be the shoppers, not the producers, in the new world supermarket. But enough of this needless dissertation of ‘facts’; let’s all agree that Martinsville was an important center of commerce. It was a community that had produced families who thrived on opportunity and entrepreneurism, to establish dynasties with which to be remembered. The Hairston family, the Bassett’s, Stanley’s, Simmon’s, Pannill’s, Brown’s, Stone’s and many other families had thrived, and their heirs were enjoying the fruits of the day.
One of these was Robert ‘Cutch’ McCutcheon, an heir of a prominent furniture family. Cutch lived to party, and wanted to bring a festive atmosphere to Martinsville during what was then the Viet Nam War Era. He and Mike Uram contracted with ‘Maurice William’s and the Zodiac’ to play in what was best described as ‘a grease pit’, for a potpourri of rich and poor citizenry of Henry County….but rich or poor, we were all ‘Henry County born and bred’….and we would have fought to the last man, for the cause. Vile it was, as the shades fell into the cesspits, and the bare bottoms were exposed….but what a party….certainly one that I will never forget. Much akin to the parties of Dixie Caverns and Baldwin’s Cabin, as I moved on to Roanoke, and college.
Maurice Williams was playing at Camp Roanoke, some 20 years later for some of my Salem friends, when I told him that I was from Martinsville. I asked him if he remembered ‘Cutch’, a gentle giant, who lived to party? He graciously acknowledged, as if one night, (monumental as it was to a country boy from the ville) out of thousands of concerts, stood out. I told him that sadly ‘Cutch’ had passed away, but that his spirit lingered in all true natives of the ‘ville’. And that ‘Stay…., just a little bit longer’ was next to ‘Dixie’ on our all time favorites list….I think he understood….as only one who grew up in this time could….and that ‘soul’ brought us together….as no law, inheritance, nor legislation could do….RIP Cutch and Mike!
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