clintonnc.com

Ease on down to Easy Street

Oscar M. Bizzell 1921-2003

September 29, 2013

* From the Sampson County Heritage Book, 1984

At the western edge of Newton Grove is a charming community called Easy Street. It’s located in northern Sampson County, in the vicinity of the intersection of NC 96 and NC 55, close to the Johnston County line. There’s no highway sign marking it, and it’s not found on the NC official highway map, either.


Despite these drawbacks, Easy Street is nationally known. Its stories have been told from Raleigh, NC to Seattle, WA. Someday it may rise to rival Spivey’s Corner, which is just down the road apiece.


The official town hall is Godwin’s Store, and the honorary mayor is Alphonzo Godwin. The soft drink sign on the side of the store proclaims the name of the community. Fonnie, as the mayor is called, farms for a living and his wife, Lola, runs the store.


About 47 years ago, during the big Depression, Fonnie said he used to have as store just across the road. It, too, was a favorite gathering place for folks in the community.


One summer day around noontime, about a dozen of the local boys had dropped in for a refreshing double-big Pepsi Cola to cool down after working in the fields. The concrete floor was the coolest place to be found, and several of them decided to lay down on it. About that time Uncle Frank Maynard walked in and looked around. “Well”, Uncle Frank said, “this place sure must be Easy Street.” After that, the name stuck.


Fonnie said that despite the name, the 200 residents in the community were all hard-working folks who worked for a living, just like everybody else. When some decided to knock off and rest a spell, Godwin’s Store always was always a nice place to go.


Easy Street lies near the highest elevation in Sampson County, near the headwaters of Mill Creek, Seven Mile Swamp, and the Great Coharie.


The atmosphere at Godwin’s Store would remind one of an English pub. It’s a gathering place for both men and women in the community. Refreshments are consumed, current events are discussed, and gossip generated and passed along. Occasionally, someone buys a few groceries or maybe a tank of gasoline.


Indeed, many small towns have had their very beginnings in a manner similar to that of Easy Street.


Sometimes, when you’re lonely for fellowship, ease on down to Easy Street and sit a spell with Fonnie and Lola.