Interviewed for this issue of On the Level was Verne Miller, who has graciously shared a bit about himself, how he became involved in Masonry, and sharing about his interests and accomplishments in the creation of miniatures ships.
I joined the Brotherhood after researching about Masons for several years. I was looking for a fraternity where fellowship, charity, and camaraderie were it's main goals. I wanted a place where I could grow and become better, not just join and remain a member.
I was Initiated at the Beloit Morningstar Lodge #10 on December 2nd, 2009, Passed on January 23rd, 2010, and Raised on March 20th, 2010. I became first the Junior Deacon, then the Senior Deacon of that Lodge.
In November of 2012, I transferred to the Janesville Western Star #55 Lodge.
I am also a member of the York Rite, its Royal Arch Chapter, Cryptic Council, and am presently the Junior Warden for Janesville Commandry #10 of the Knights Templar.
I have also traveled to Denmark and have been to the Lodge in Copenhagen, the Seven Stars Lodge, and was asked to join their activities for their Grand Lodge of Denmark where I was introduced to the Grand Master of Denmark.
Home Life & Career
I have one previous marriage, and was married the second time in Denmark in June of 2011 to Mie, who was a friend of the family. We were married in front of the ruins of the castle at Gurre, which is the oldest castle in Denmark, built in the 900's. Mie finally arrived here for good in November of 2012, after going through immigration proceedings for a year and a half.
During that time, I traveled to Denmark very often, and have spent over 4 months there in the last year.
We own a home in Beloit with two dogs, A Bernese Mountain dog and a new Retriever/Shepard mix puppy. One is 100 pounds of puppy, the other is 20 pounds of mischief!
I've had a number of occupations, being a railroad worker, draftsman, engineer, accountant and finally a career in law enforcement. I worked for 20+ years for a federal agency out of Chicago, being involved in narcotics interdiction, investigations, and special operations.
I became a K-9 handler working a narcotics dog, and also became an instructor in SWAT operations with a specialty as an instructor in Sniper Operations. My mentor for sniper operations was USMC GySgt. Carlos Hathcock.
I also hold numerous certifications as a CPR/First Aid Instructor, Police Firearms Instructor and Armorer, Field Training Officer, Rescue Technician, etc., etc. I've written about 18 essays that have been published in police professional journals, and have co-wrote two small books on street gang identification. I've traveled throughout the nation giving lectures and seminars on police special operations.
In December of 2000, I had an accident where I slipped on ice and fell down a flight of stairs. I broke my right arm and shoulder in three places. Because of complications, I ended up with a disabled right arm which ended my police career. Since then I have been on premanent disability from my former department.
I've always been interested in miniatures. Besides the plastic models many of us built as kids, one of the first scale models I built was a ranch house showing all the studs, joists, etc. while in high school. That was built at 1/4" = 1'.
While studying mechanical and computer engineering, which my degree is in, and later becoming a cop (go figure!), I still kept an interest in modeling, but never pursuing it.
in 2000, I had an accident which disabled me from law enforcement. While setting around healing, I started looking at building models again. I decided on scale wood sailing ships, and started building one.
There are two ways to build these ships, the first is to order the blueprints, order the wood needed, and start in. The second way is to order a "kit" from one of the model supply firms. These kits are a box of wood sticks, and the plans. The kits are the fastest and easiest way to go, also a lot cheaper than ordering everything separate. You still have to cut, carve and shape every single piece. The only pieces pre made are the scale metal castings, such as the brass cannons.
Attention to detail is critical in building these models. A mistake of a fraction of a millimeter at one place can throw off something an inch or two later. Also, the more detail, the finer the model looks.
I strive for what I call "museum quality" in my models, meaning that when someone looks or examines them, they can see what an actual ship would look like and how it would work. And yes, the "running rigging", or the ropes that control the sails, actually do work! If you pull on the rope, you could control the sails.
The actual working time in building these models is measured in years.
It takes about 3-4 years to build one that you have pictures of.
It can take 7-10 years for one of the largest, most complicated ones, such as the USS Constitution or the HMS Victory. So you see, it can take longer to build the model than the actual ship!
The other problem is size. Like the old joke about the guy who built a boat in his basement, then couldn't get it out is true about these models. If you build some of the bigger ones (4' long, 3'high), they are so big you couldn't get them out of the basement!
If you'd like to look at some of the models available for building, here's the web site for a supplier:http://historicships.com