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  Martinsville High School Alumni
Class of 1965 Reply  |   Post Message  |   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!
02/24/12     Michelle (Moorefield) Ames  (1967)      mames6@cox.net
Re: The Grease Pit Party....
Hey Archie, THIS is beautifuuly written~~ WOW!!! You took me back to a "moment in Time", even tho I wasn't there, I felt like I was. YOU are definately a spokesperson (most probably the BEST) for our hometown and the good memories we can all relate to, so thank-you for sharing this bit of yesteryear with us!
02/25/12     Jim Criss  (1964)      cygbsm@aol.com
Re: The Grease Pit Party....
Great story, Archie..Cutch and Mike had been searching for a spot to rent to have this party, and the garage was not only the best option..it was the ONLY option..it was cold and we had to put in some large propane heaters to try to warm the place before everyone arrived..once everyone got there, we figured the band and alcohol would supply hest! I was selling ice and set-ups..I think it was the best party I ever attended! Thanks for bringing back those memories, and Cutch and Mike are laughing right now!
03/05/12     Jenkie Willard  (1965)      Flwillard007@aol.com
Re: The Grease Pit Party....
Hey Archie!
Really enjoyed your post!
Sometimes I am hesitant to check-out the Mavahi website
due to fear of the report of another classmate biting the dust. Yet, your description of the event was excellent!

Wish I could have been there!

Ironically, I had wanted Maurice and the Zodiacs for our
Junior/Senior prom (I think when we were Juniors). Unfortunately, the costs of their appearance went well
beyond the meager funds we had. Also, an unnamed teacher
/advisor stated that it would not be appropriate to have
a "colored" band. Consistent with my prior conduct, I
asked, " What color are they?". But that was a long, long
time ago..........
03/05/12     Sandy Young O'Malley  (1965)      sandyk4305@aol.com
Re: The Grease Pit Party....
Oh, Jenkie, please name the teacher. It is hard to believe even in that time that someone would SAY something so ignorant out loud even if they believed it privately.
03/07/12     Jenkie Willard  (1965)      Flwillard007@aol.com
Re: The Grease Pit Party....
Hey Sandra K.!

Even tho' "truth is an absolute defense to slander or libel",
I'm gonna NOT reveal the culprit. 'cause after all, in those
days, I did have the unique ability of bringing out the worst
in people--just ask Miss Fugate (Hobson), Bob Stack and
of course Forrest L. Frasier; and even Mary Jane Powell!!

But I do wholeheartedly agree with what you said. Take care!
03/17/12     Sandra O'Malley  (1965)      sandyk4305@aol.com
Re: The Grease Pit Party....
OMG, did that woman, Miss Fugate hate me!Perhaps, I too, brought out the worst in some teachers with my smart mouth. But they always say "what goes around, comes around" and my son had that same sass with some teachers. Thank God he has since matured with age and it seems difficult to even remember him that way. I wonder if those teachers (those that are alive) remember us?
06/19/12     Archie Thomasson  (1965)      Archer1710@msn.com
Re: The Grease Pit Party....
Barry Mobley asked me to post to this website....
What a hoot!!
Brought back a million memories of one of my all time favorite friends.
"Cutch" was one of a kind with a heart as large as his body. From the first time we met at a party at Averett College to the day I helped carry his body to the cemetery I will always remember him with fond memories and a smile. I have so many stories that involve Cutch I could write a short novel that many would swear it was fiction.We would load up our cars with beer, food, and dates and do the party circuit from the Tri-Delta house up at Univ.of Md to the Gold Cup horse races somewhere down in South Carolina and spend the weekend making memories that are still with me. One in particular was at an outdoor Spring Party back in the late 60s or early 70s at Stratford College that had The Real Friends of Distinction and they had recently released
Love or Let me be Lonely.Cutch was tired of the old coolers we had been using for several months and decided we needed one that "made a statement" so he found a big white oval toilet at his Grandfathers house on Starling Rd and he had me rig it up with a bottom that allowed us to pour our concoction of "Purple J" in it and needless to say the comments and looks it evoked that weekend were hilarious. Our porcelain cooler met its demise at the VIRs if I remember correctly.
If you see or talk to Mrs.
McCutchin,May Finley or Archie please give them my best.
Barry Mobley
07/30/12     Jim Rothrock  (1967)      jarothrock@aol.com
Re: The Grease Pit Party....
Im pretty sure cutch hosted another party w the Showmen kind of across from what used to be the HI beyond the Bowling Alley on 220n. Another great evening.......
07/30/12     Jim Rothrock  (1967)      jarothrock@aol.com
Re: The Grease Pit Party....
At the VIRs one year he also rode my wheelchair down the hill repeatedly as I found comfort on a grassy knoll around the track. His long legs and arms extended was a sight to behold..........jim
09/19/14     Ken Wilson  (1964)      kennwilson@embarqmail.com
Re: The Grease Pit Party....
Archie, So very well written. Ocassionally, I'll drive by the old "Grease Pit" building and a broad smile comes across my face. What a party!. Mike, Cutch and I worked all day to get that place ready. We brought in kerosene heaters, cleaned the bathroom, set up the stage, and swept out the place as best we could. I had the flu, but was determined to be there. As the night progressed, expected appropriate behaviors greatly deminished with the excess consumption of a variety of beverages. Cutch was performing on-satage with the band to the tune of "To Weak To Fight", and a young lady had fallen through the bathroom wall. Mike was ever viglant, keeping an eye eacn each reveler and I was working the door...What a night! A historical event by some measures, but I doubt if it will ever be mentioned in the archives of Martinsville and Henry County. It should be. The June German Ball had nothing on us.
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