21Country: Grandfather and grandson take on “Titanic” project

21Country: Grandfather and grandson take on "Titanic" project
21Country: Grandfather and grandson take on "Titanic" project(Daniel Beals)
Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 3:44 PM EDT
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ANGOLA, Ind. (WPTA21) - After years as a journeyman in the trades, Angola Grandfather Jim Thorne is reporting to a new supervisor; his grandson.

Jim walks hand in hand with 6-year-old Jackson into his backyard workshop. He turns on the lights. “I’m retired. I’m a grandpa to the greatest grandchildren I’ve ever had. And we like doing projects together,” he says.

The pair began by building a tree house outside Jackson’s home as a chance to bond during the pandemic. From there, Jim and Jackson turned their attention to other projects, like a haunted house and a dog house.

“He gave me all the ideas, didn’t you?” Jim asks Jackson.

“Mmhmm,” Jackson nods proudly.

This Spring, Jackson became fascinated with the Titanic after viewing a video online. “The Titanic was sailing, and it hit an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic,” Jackson explains.

So Jim decided, rather than purchase a model Titanic for Jackson, to build him one instead.

“We could have gone out and bought a Titanic,” Jim says. “He would have played with it a week and forgot about it. This he’ll never forget.”

In today’s dollars, the real Titanic would have had a $400 million price tag. Jim and Jackson’s project cost just $50.

Jim turns on the trio of electric fans functioning as the Titanic’s rotors. “It’s funny,” he says. “Everything on this boat we were going to throw away. There’s an old plant stand. There’s an old snow sled. Just a bunch of parts that I had out here. It was going to start out the size of a shoe box. Well, I don’t do nothing small.”

Jackson chimes in, “Cause we got the people with the necklace and the captain so it looked like he was at the steering wheel.”

As Jim taught Jackson tools and safety, Jackson taught Jim history.

“He coached me on this,” Jim says. “He knew more about this Titanic that I did. And if I made a mistake? He let me know. He wanted it real. He wanted it exactly like the real Titanic.”

But there was one change from the original that Jackson insisted on.

Jim recalls, “I think the most unique thing was, he looked at his grandma and said, ‘The Titanic only had 20 lifeboats, grandma.’ And tell him what you told me. You wanted what?”

“More lifeboats,” Jackson says.

“Why?”

“To save the other people.”

Jim beams with pride. “He wanted to save all the people.”

Jim says he hopes more dads and granddads follow his lead, teaching skills learned in the trades to the next generation.

“It gives me a chance to pass down what my granddad and my dad taught me,” he says. “I’m passing it down to him so he can pass it right down and keep it going.”

Jim says he and Jackson aren’t done yet. “I love this kid. Him and his little brother. I got another one coming up, so there’s going to be a lot more projects.”

Jackson says he wants to build a replica Statue of Liberty next.

“I want him to remember me. I want him to remember the things we did. The more we did, the stronger the bond got. And this bond is unbreakable.”

Jim offers his hand to Jackson for a high five. “Isn’t it buddy?”

“Yeah!” Jackson says, clapping his grandfather’s hand.

Jackson just finished first grade last month. He says when he grows up, he wants to keep building things or become a police officer, because “they’re cool and they help people.”

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