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Published Sun, Feb 03, 2013 10:04 AM
Modified Wed, Feb 06, 2013 08:06 PM

Five Minutes With ... Ben McCallum

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Ben McCallum was born in Boston but grew up in St. Louis. He and his wife Lauren have been in Clayton for 12 years and have three children.

Q: Where are you from?

I was born in Boston. Then we lived in Wilson for two years and I grew up in St. Louis.

Q: How did you get to Clayton?

When we lived in Wilson my parents used to go to the beach-- Topsail. My mom always loved Topsail. So we moved to St. Louis and such, but my mom always loved Topsail. So I moved here to go to N. C. State University. We came to Raleigh, but Topsail was still close.

Q: What did you major in at State?

Not much. I majored in a lot of fun.

Q: That happens. What do you do for a living now?

My father was in the packaging business and I am as well. I don’t work for the same company that he did. We do food packaging. My accounts are about $500,000 and down. I sell the primary packaging, film, direct contact pieces. I was in the corrugated side for 15 years and now I’m in a more specialized field. I travel with a chemist and people like that. I don’t know the science behind it, but I can get them in the door.

Q: Your dad did that too?

He was just straight corrugated, what you call cardboard. That was why we traveled around.

Q: How did you meet Lauren?

I met her at State. She was at Meredith and then went to State.

Q: How long have you all been married?

Fifteen years. We have three kids, two boys and a girl. Connor is 13, Jackson is 10 and Claire Darby is 8.

Q: What do you like to do for fun? Do you still like to go to the beach?

Not as much. Just on vacation. With three kids I don’t have a lot of time to do much. I golf when I can. I like to go hiking.

Q: Where do you go to hike?

I like to go with Stewart (McLeod) and his buddies on the Appalachian Trail. They do some really serious hiking. They don’t invite me too often.

Q: Tell me about golfing.

I just do it recreationally. I used to be more into it, but now it’s just a social thing. I play anywhere I get a chance.

Q: What do you like to do on a free day off?

Get together with friends and play golf. Then I like to cook out. Keep it simple. Nothing real fancy.

Q: Do you like to travel?

My work requires some travel, but most of it is local. I did get to take my oldest son to Boston to a Red Sox game this summer. Then I got to take him down to the State/Tennessee game in Atlanta. So it’s more she’ll take one, I’ll take one. There aren’t many big family trips. It’s easier to divide and conquer. I tell you, the kids do more traveling than Lauren and I do with grandparents. The grandparents are in Chapel Hill. Lauren’s mom moved to Cary.

Q: Do you see your parents often?

My dad and I try to meet for lunch once a week or so. They’ll take a kid for camp, but three’s tough. I can’t handle three, so I know they can’t. They’re getting up in age. Lauren’s mom has been good too.

Q: What would you do if you won the lottery?

I would move to the coast. Not so much on the beach, but I love the Wilmington area. There’s golf and fishing. Even Morehead City. Some friends of ours take us fishing a lot. I’d love to be near the coast. Lauren has always wanted to live in Florida. I just want to be somewhere near the coast.

Q: I hear that you are quite the character. Tell me some of your stories.

I don’t know where to go with that one. Feel free to embellish. I told you I have nothing to offer. I told you I’m just a dad and an employee.

Q: Do you like to read?

I read a tremendous amount. I read crime noir stuff. I read about a book a week. But it’s all in that same vein. James Lee Burke and Robert Crais. If you like Lee Child you’ll like Robert Crais.

Q: Do you cook?

No. Just grill out, usually with a bunch of people. We’ve got a good group and we usually get together once or twice a month. People will cook out or do oysters. Something like that. We do stuff with the kids.

Q: Why did you choose to live in Clayton since you can live anywhere with your job?

I was living in Raleigh and while I was on a golf trip to Ireland Lauren found the place in Clayton. She said, “I found a place on a golf course,” and I said, “Let’s go.” I had never heard of Clayton. We really love it here. I can’t imagine raising a family anyplace else.

Q: So how would Lauren describe you?

I don’t know. You’d have to ask her.

Q: Which of your three children is most like you?

I don’t know. That’s hard because they are all so different. I guess Connor.

Q: Why do you say he’s most like you?

Because he’s really easy going and doesn’t let much get to him. They are all great kids.

Q: Besides golf did you play any other sports growing up?

I played baseball. I played for one year in college at Allegheny State in Meadville, PA.

Q: Why did you leave Allegheny State?

I was done. I went to Ireland and lived there for a year and then went to State.

Q: Why did you choose Ireland?

I went for work. Beer. The company my dad was with was based in Dublin and they had an exchange program.

Q: How nice. What company was that?


Q: What did you like best about Ireland?

I played golf and drank beer for a year. It was neat. I lived with an Irish family.

Q: How did you find the family?

Someone placed you with a family. Two of their kids came over here and worked in Wilson at the box plant and I worked in a box plant over there.

Q: Sounds like you got the better end of that deal.

Well, they really loved it here. They got to go to the beach every weekend.

Q: Have you kept up with the family you lived with?

Yes. With social networking I’ve been able to. I’ve been back since to see them three or four times.

Q: Did you ever think about moving to Ireland?

I would have loved to. It was a fantastic economy back then, but now it’s a financial disaster. Where we used to play golf was the same club where they play the Ryder Cup. It was beautiful.

Correspondent Holly Lock

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