Jeff Jensen's hobby is a disaster. It's also mysterious and colossal, and that's how the Davis High School junior likes it - Titanic style.
For the past seven years, he's collected books, paintings and information about one of the great tragedies of the 20th century - the sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage, April 14, 1912.His greatest prize is a 51/2-foot- long wooden replica of the ill-fated luxury liner.
"It's so detailed," he said.
Jensen's father, Bruce, a Kaysville dentist, bought it for him at a 1992 Boston auction during an 80th anniversary reunion of the ship's survivors.
The ship is constructed primarily of matchsticks. Ironically, matches produce fire, the opposite of ice and water - the forces that sunk the supposedly unsinkable liner.
Another touch of irony is that the Jensens purchased the model for $1,500. Rounded off, that number is the number of people who died in the Titanic disaster.
Jeff's dad said he didn't intend to buy the model. He simply tried to spur the slow bidding process and somehow ended up the high bidder.
A man from Maine spent seven years building the one-of-a-kind model. He relied on blueprints of the Titanic and had to use 35 bottles of Elmer's Glue.
Getting the model, complete with inside staircases, lifeboats and removable decks, back to Utah required a special crate.
Jensen's parents don't regret buying the model.
That's because the teen has taken such good care of it and has willingly shared it.
He has spoken at many schools, even to literary clubs, about the Titanic.
"He's shared it with as many as he can," his mother, Chris Jensen, said.
Because the new "Titanic" movie begins Friday, Jensen has put the ship model on exhibit at the Tinseltown Theater northwest of the Layton Hills Mall.
It'll be there at least until Monday, and he plans on being at the theater to answer questions about the ship. He knows plenty about the Titanic, the crew, the aftermath and modern submarine divings to the ship's remains on the ocean floor.
Jensen's fixation with the Titanic began in the fourth grade at Kaysville's Morgan Elementary. He credits his teacher, Dena Call, with a great history lesson that sparked his interest in the Titanic.
"It didn't hit me," he said. "It was a gradual thing."
He's collected 45 books on the Titanic, including the first one printed after the accident, also in 1912.
Jensen has a great interest in history and also excels in his knowledge of the Kennedy assassination and a portion of the Civil War.
At the 1992 survivors' reunion, Chris Jensen said, her son was a novelty - this young kid with glasses who stole the hearts of some of the survivors.
Sadly, only one of the seven survivors he met is still alive.
Jensen plans on seeing the movie and believes he'll never outgrow his Titanic hobby.
What if someone offered him big bucks for the model? He's not sure, but he doesn't believe he'd ever sell it.
Jensen said one major misconception about the Titanic is that the captain is to blame for the disaster. He believes Capt. E.J. Smith was not responsible for the accident.
In fact, he said, the captain wasn't overconfident and never received the warning of icebergs ahead. He too went down with the ship.
If anyone's to blame for the tragedy, Jensen believes it was ship owner J. Bruce Ismay, who cut back on the number of lifeboats from the suggested 64 to 20. (Sixty-three boats would have held all the passengers.)