- Associated Press - Saturday, February 20, 2016

NICEVILLE, Fla. (AP) - For nearly half a century, Fred Jones’ handiwork was stored away in a special box handmade by his father.

The heavy wooden container has about 20 small drawers, each big enough to hold a few of the miniature models of ships that Jones, 75, spent hours building when he was a teen.

The tiny ships, which measure from around an inch and a half to 4 inches long, are amazingly accurate replicas of naval vessels from World War II.

Jones, a Niceville resident, first put them on display at the city’s library back in 2007, and is once again sharing them with the public.

“The display is very popular,” said reference librarian Lora Glass. “It’s situated on the way to our teen room, and the young people often stop to look at it on their way there. That’s pretty unusual for them to be attracted to something on display like that.”

Niceville resident Betty Derrick was admiring the display when Jones approached.

“You made all these?” Derrick asked. “Wow! You should be very proud.”

The 100 or so models represent everything from destroyers to battleships. Both the Allies and the Axis powers are represented.

“Do you see these two Japanese models?” Jones said, gesturing toward two ships in one corner of the display. “They were the biggest ships ever built. And you know what? U.S. bombers took out both of them.”

Jones’ interest in model building began as a youngster in New York City. Some friends of a friend were into the hobby, and he became fascinated with creating something so detailed and intricate.

“Around that same time, my family moved out of the city to Long Island,” he recalled. “It was desolate out there. I mean desolate. There was absolutely nothing to do. So I took up this hobby, and it kept me occupied.”

Despite his intense interest in naval vessels, when Jones graduated from high school, he chose to join the Army rather than the Navy.

“I don’t know why,” he said with a laugh. “After three years I got out of the Army and then later joined the Air Force. Go figure!”


Information from: Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.), https://www.nwfdailynews.com

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