Today (January 11) closes the door (literally) on our time in Martinsville VA, sometime this afternoon the deed will be filed and our legal ties will be ended. I loved small town living. We had within an easy jaunt, Walmart and Lowes, (what else do you need) virtually no traffic to deal with, the natural beauty of nature, flora and fauna, ever present deer to marvel at and some of the nicest, friendliest people to ever meet. There were the guys at Market Square Deli’s Breakfast Club, The first Owner Samir Chaudhari, and then the new owner, Gary from Upstate NY and his lovely late wife. We talked Sox/Yankees, Patriots/Bills year round and shared a disdain for Hillary Clinton and Democrat policies.
The Breakfast Club was Danny Turner, Mayor then, and now City Councilman, a true public servant, devoted to the salvation of the taxpayer and the honor of the area’s veterans. There was Ural Harris, veteran and common man, always willing to write a letter to the editor, call in to the local community TV show and even run for office to keep the bastards honest. There was Ron Wilson, the wise man among the group, both in fiscal policy, income taxes and wise cracks. He’s a rock and roller even today playing with his band into his 60’s, a Harley rider, and the one guy who insists that Danny tells the truth, the whole truth (the Hole Truth on the Fairways) and nothing but the truth. There was Big Mike, who mentors troubled youth, and John from the Auto detail shop, an eternal optimist and gentleman of the highest order.
In Martinsville, I met Brian McConnell, GM of the Martinsville Mustangs, who invited me to work in the press box as official scorer for 3 seasons. Baseball 2-3 nights a week, heaven. In the box I met Earl Shelton, announcer and local broadcaster, I marveled at his ability to connect with all kinds of people, and was thrilled to appear on his radio show a couple of times. Martinsville is loaded with people like this, and the town was once thriving with industry that paid living wages with civic minded business leaders who formed committees to improve the welfare of the people and built a community owned hospital.
We purchased our house from the estate of Jack Hankins, a WW2 veteran, lawyer, and Furniture Manufacturing Executive, his portrait hangs in the local airport as one of the founders. These are the people of Martinsville. They’re Black and White, and they all pull together for their families, schools, and churches. They conduct business with handshakes and provide charity when it’s needed. They are the moms and dads who stay married and pass their values down to their kids. They organize, coach, and support the schools, and the athletes that represent them. They are the real America. Not the divided docudrama you see on TV and the internet, they’re just too busy for that kind of nonsense.
Among all of these fine people, my two neighbors George Doc Scouras and his wife Celia were the best of the best. They started with a genuine friendly welcome to the neighborhood, and always greeted us with a smile outside when we would see them, but when Celia asked out of concern whether Doc’s guitar playing bothered us at night or not, I immediately asked if he might be willing to teach me to play. We started by getting together one day per week, and I didn’t know anything about guitars, except that they had strings. Slowly we worked on chords until I could play Kansas City. We played Little Sister, Margaritaville, Jambalaya, and Poke Salad Annie. We covered Folsom Prison, Country Road, and Hank Williams Jr. The music we played was pure music, not technically right, but the type of music played with joy and love, real music.
Not owning that house and having to do renovations and driving 500 miles a week anymore has made my life easier, yet in many ways, not better.