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