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Sim Graham Akron Mascot
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Sim Graham is well known to East Market Street commuters and residents who pass Mattress Factory Outlet, his employer. While very few know him by name, his local fame cannot be denied.
“[People are always] messin’ with the gorilla,” Graham says. Sometimes people toss bananas (either singly or in bunches), beer and candy at him. Two military servicewomen had their picture taken with him before shipping off to Iraq. People bring their children to meet him. “The kids love gorillas,” he says. “I make the kids happy. They hug me.”
Graham gets an occasional honk, and sometimes more, from passing traffic, as the story of a bus passenger known as the “3:30 Flasher” told by store manager Brad Ford might suggest. “You hear all kinds of weird stuff. Unbelieveable,” Ford says.
Whether it’s a blazing 90-plus degrees or bone-cold freezing, Graham brings smiles to passersby and business to the store near the corner of Main and Arlington streets.
“I’m going on my fourth year,” says Graham, who joined the store after leaving B&C Research in Barberton where he built truck rims. Tired of the heavy lifting involved, he looked for something different. He applied at the store, a few blocks from his home, where he discovered the previous gorilla had quit.
“I liked the idea right away,” Graham says. “I started the next day.”
As one would expect, he has had his share of appearances in the Beacon Journal, the “Son of Ghoul Show” and other television and radio spots.
Store manager Ford is delighted with Graham’s work. “[He’s the] best we’ve had — and we’ve had a few,” Ford says. “We rarely have to give directions to the place.”
Graham works a full-day shift most days. When he’s not working, he is at the Saint Temple First Born Church of Living God in the Old Main Street area on Sundays playing bass guitar and organ, as he has done for 30 years.
Despite weather extremes and occasional strange behaviors from passersby, Graham enjoys his job and shares his professional passion with another local mascot. “I want to make sure Zippy sees this. I know he’s heard of me,”