03/08/09 — Grantham: Their home in the country

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Grantham: Their home in the country

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 8, 2009 9:57 AM

GRANTHAM -- Ask anybody in this community what makes it so special and more than likely the answer will be the same -- the people.

"What makes Grantham a great place to live are the people who live out here," lifelong resident Ted Grantham said. "Most of the people out here are good people.

"I can't see myself living anywhere else. I had the opportunity to move, but didn't. I probably could have made a lot more money somewhere else. All these people, when we were going to school, would say, 'boy if I can just get gone' and you know, three-fourths of them never left. The people who move off I doubt, if they come back to stay, but they do come back once in a while and I see a lot of them when they come through and they stop."

Grantham, 41, who was standing behind the county at the hardware store founded by his grandfather in 1947, said the fire station and school "mean a lot" to the community.

"The school is a big part of our community," he said. "I guess that is the reason we have always wanted our high school back that got away so many years ago. It shouldn't have ever got away in the first place. I hope one day we will eventually get it back.

"We don't have city taxes and annexation and all that kind of stuff. I just can't imagine living anywhere else. Now my children may go wherever when they get out of school."

The hardware store and the adjoining grill and convenience store are a community gathering spot.

Bill and Peggy Massengill were at the grill for lunch and to visit.

"We'll come out here for lunch rather than fix lunch at home so we can socialize with our neighbors," Massengill said. "We come for breakfast three or four times a week. It's just a relaxed laid-back atmosphere. Besides that, where else can you go within a mile of your house and get a good breakfast.

"I can look around this store and see several generations anytime I come in here. It is just a laid-back lifestyle and I like it."

Massengill, 75, was born and raised here.

"We farmed in this neighborhood when I was growing up and I played in these woods as a little boy so I am quite familiar with Grantham and most of the people here," he said. "I know some of the young ones and the ones I don't know but I know their parents."

After graduating from high school he attended Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) where he met his future wife, a native of Fremont who was reared in Wilson.

They have lived in Norfolk, Va., and Raleigh where he worked with the N.C. Department of Administration as a certified public accountant.

However, Massengill wan-ted to return home and in November 1963 he opened his own accounting practice in Goldsboro.

"I have been here (in Grantham) ever since," he said. "We were away for 11 years. I just like it here. The people in Goldsboro feel sorry for us folks living out here in the country, and I feel sorry for them with all those people around them. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to get into town. Beside when I am working it gives me 20 minute to make the transition from giving advice to taking it (from his wife).

"Around here land is for buying not for selling. Very few people will sell land here. They'll give a son or daughter a lot so they can build a house on it. It really upsets these people when they see land taken out of farming and put into something else and I agree with them. I like it the way it is. It don't need improving, it don't need developing."

"I married him and I have liked his lifestyle for almost 53 years," said Mrs. Massengill, a former member of the Wayne County Board of Education. "He told me (when they met) he wanted to be a CPA and I said, 'what is that.'

"He wanted to move back to North Carolina and his dream was his own CPA practice and he built it. Then he said, 'I want a place out in the country back home maybe where I can have a garden and have that kind of life.' Some land became available, so we built a home in Grantham and we have enjoyed it. At that time, his mother was still living and that is where you go back to family and roots. We built a place beside his brother and looked after him."

It is "different world" today, she said.

"With the economy the way it is now and so many being laid off in cities, I think you may see some coming back home and coming back to their roots if they can find employment," she said.

"It is a grand life, it has memories, it has traditions. It has a lot of love and that is what I love. I have enjoyed the other places we have lived in over 53 years. Every place has pluses and minuses. This is the kind of life we like to live now. It is quiet and peaceful."

There are some signs of things cities see, she said.

"There are some signs of gangs, graffiti, drugs," she said. "But it is not as concentrated, but every area has some of that."

"With my garden and a golf course nearby, I am set," Massengill said.

"We can play well and eat well," Mrs. Massengill said. "We are close enough to Mount Olive that we enjoy the Mount Olive area as well. Between the Grantham Grill and the Southern Belle (in Mount Olive), we eat well and we see a lot of friendly, loving wonderful people."

Roger Kornegay's family moved from the Grantham community when he was about 5.

Kornegay, now 52, moved back when he was 24.

"Why come back it? It was home," he said. "What makes it special? People. It is a close-knit community of caring people. That pretty much says it all. It is where neighbors help neighbors. If you get sick you have got somebody to care about you.

"The reason you don't see many big housing developments is because the land is privately owned and people don't want to sell their land."

Reggie Davis, 37, an assistant football coach at Grantham School, also returned home after living away for a brief while.

"One time I took off for about a year," he said. "I got hurt, and they (family) took me back in. I have been here 24 years."

The community, he said, is special.

"I coach football at the school, volunteer on the fire department, it keeps me going," he said. "The people are friendly."

Davis' grandfather, Wade Davis, worked for about 40 years as the meat cutter at Grantham.

"I started coming around when I was about 8 or 9 so now I work here (Grantham Grill) as a cook and meat cutter. I have no plans to go anyplace else."