gGraham says he has 225 pieces now, but wants to make 750.
They will include 50 winged horses flying overhead on a ski lift.
“I want their legs to move, I want their wings to move, and their
head to move from side to side,” he says. “I already do the light-houses.
The motor makes the light turn; I can make them do just
about anything. Now I want to make the rest of the animals do
automated things. When I was a little boy, I always read
this comic book called Richie Rich. Everything he had
was animated and automated. It was like a world from the
future. And that world he lived in, it’s here today.”
Much of Graham’s motivation comes
from an incident that happened in
1974, when he was the only black
child in a school choir that sang at an
all-white church in Columbus County.
“All of a sudden, the pastor tapped
me on the shoulder,” Graham says. “He
said, ‘It’s not me but the people don’t
want you here.’ He took me in his car.
I couldn’t do anything but cry. I never could understand why. It’s
just the color of your skin. You’re not going to be equal to them
and have the things they have.”
Grahamland is his way of proving them wrong.
“There’s never been a black man own a theme park,” he says. “It
will support all these jobs. For someone
black to be doing something great in this
area. … The last black guy who did great
is that artist who died, Ivey Hayes.”
Graham still has a long way to go
to make the dream a reality. There are
funds to raise, and hundreds of pieces
to build and automate. But he doesn’t
doubt that it will happen.
“People questioned Disney; you’re going
to do what with this mouse?” he says.
In the meantime, there will be the
occasional visitor stopping by, drawn by
the big beach girl out front.
Graham puts a new shirt
on one of his two Uniroyal
Gals, to match her new skirt.
Hurricane Matthew destroyed
her old clothes last year.
WBM august 2017