Every morning, as Greg Zimmerman leaves his senior living apartment at Monarch Landing in Naperville, IL, his wife Jane calls out, “Say ‘hello’ to your mistress!”
She’s referring, of course, to her husband’s model ship. He’s headed to the senior living community’s extensive woodshop.
For more than a year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zimmerman would spend at least three hours a day working on his model of San Felipe, the flagship of the Spanish Armada, which launched in 1690.
It’s a hobby that has helped serve a variety of needs for him during a particularly stressful time, he said.
“When I’m working on a ship, everything else takes a back seat, so it has a calming effect,” Zimmerman said. “It’s almost meditative, but you’re not thinking inward; you’re working on something that removes any kind of concerns.”
To date, he has completed 12 beautiful and extremely detailed 1/72 scaled replicas of historically significant ships.
Zimmerman’s hobby started when he received a model kit of the ship known as “Flying Fish” as a Christmas gift.
“I wouldn’t have bought it, but it got me interested,” Zimmerman recalled. He’s been building advanced and highly detailed models ever since.
Zimmerman’s “fleet” includes the USS Constitution, the Mayflower, the Charles W. Morgan, the HMS Bellona and more.
Although he loves history in general, Zimmerman said that he is particularly fascinated with the maritime-related past. He carefully researches and educates himself on each ship he builds.
Zimmerman added that he continues to be in awe of Monarch Landing’s woodshop, which he refers to as a “true marvel.”
“Sometimes people, especially men, don’t want to move out of their homes because they feel like they need to give up their hobbies,” he said. “That’s not the case. We have so much space, equipment and supplies that not only can people keep doing what they love, but they can also find and pursue new hobbies.”
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