As a little boy, I remember I was about 9 years old at the most, and a guy had come on TV, and he had built a place that had Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Frontierland. Of course it was Disneyland, and it stunned me as a kid, thinking, “Wow, grownups would build something that’s just for fun.”
I sort of kept that in the back of my mind all these years, and here it is.
I had a vision of a little western town, and I just thought I could replicate that in some ways. I called it J. Lorraine, Texas, named after my daughter – Jennifer Lorraine – but then a few years ago I started using the “ghost town” tag. And I find the ghost town is more appealing and more interesting to people than just J. Lorraine, Texas.
Probably about 15 years or so ago, I went in there and told the loan officer what I was doing, and I needed $20,000, and with no collateral, they loaned me $20,000.
Every weekend, and every three-day weekend, and every day after work, I was out here, and my mantra was, “At least one more board a day.” Just kept adding a little more every day, and after 15 years, you get a bunch of boards in the ground, I guess.
We’re open on the weekends to the general public, but intermittently we are rented out for weddings, or birthday parties, or graduations.
I literally come out at nights, and I walk around, I look around, and I sort of visualize like, “Ooh, I need something there.” I’ll go draw it, and then I’ll start building it, and then I’ll look at my drawing and the building and say, “Well, they don’t look alike, what happened?”
To me profit comes after you have paid all your liabilities; if you have any money left. I still have some liabilities out there. But you have one shot in life, so you have to just keep moving forward.
When I see kids running around and enjoying themselves, and parents and their kids enjoying themselves, that’s the real payoff for me.
This story was produced by Lea Konczal.