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Satchel Forrester’s bag full of tricks

By Tessa Ruben
Published: December 2008

“Is this your satchel? It seems unlikely that this question would have a lifelong impact on somebody’s life. For most people in the world, it wouldn’t – with the exception of our own Newton South student. He was a still-nameless newborn a full four days past his birth, when a nurse stopped by in search of the owner of a lost satchel. Though the bag belonged to neither of his parents, it sparked the idea for the first name for their new son, Satchel.

In a school of Sams, Benjamins, Davids, and Daniels, Satchel Forrester doesn’t mind that his name is unique. He likes it (and is grateful; before that nurse happened to stop in and forever change his fate, his parents considered christening him Woody – Woody Forrester). His name, and the story that accompanies it, is fitting for a kid who is always up for something new and different.

One such thing is Frisbee. For years, Forrester trucked off to remote towns for the multiple practices and games his club Frisbee team held each week. When, freshman year, he found the chance to put his Frisbee-tossing to use, he traded in his soccer ball for a Frisbee and decided to join South’s Frisbee team, The Angry Corn.

Although Forrester was raised playing the typical league sports favored by the majority of Newton’s elementary schoolers, he eventually abandoned more traditional activities in favor of the Frisbee, and his preferred mode of transportation: a skateboard.

When his sister received a ukulele as a Hanukah gift a few years back, he brought it into to his own room and taught himself to play. Forrester took up violin lessons during elementary school, and has sampled any and every instrument that grabbed him from then on. He can bang out tunes on the piano and strum the guitar, but his favorite instrument to play is the trumpet.

“It’s great stress release to just make some really loud noise, he says. And for when all other instruments, from classic jazz horn to Hawaiian guitar, just won’t do, there’s always the Jew’s harp. Contrary to its name, the small metal mouth harp does not reflect Forrester’s Jewish roots, but instead is a testament to his flair for the unusual.

The variety of instruments Forrester plays mirrors the unlikely mix of music he listens to. He’s into any genre from underground hip-hop to jazz to indie-pop to classic rock, and has seen every artist from the Backstreet Boys (at age four) to Roger Waters, the guitarist for Pink Floyd.

He doesn’t mind being the only adolescent standing beside his mother, a music reviewer for the Boston Globe, in a sea of jumping teens at concerts. In fact, he doesn’t mind spending quality time with his parents at all – he enjoys it.

He eats pretty much anything, and can tolerate anyone as long as they do they same for him.

In a school where there’s always a test the next day or an essay to write, where the snack machine demands exact change the days you only have a five dollar bill, and moms and dads perpetually nag us, Forrester seems immune to the stress.

His attitude matches his affinity for San Francisco and Jack Kerouac. “My perfect year to be born is ’52, he explained, after counting backwards from his ideal year. “Too old for the draft, but just in time for Woodstock.

Although we may not all wish we had been alive for the flower-power years, we can take a page out of Forrester’s book.

It’s cheesy but true – these are days we’ll never get back. You many not own a Jews harp or ukulele, but it’s never too late to take up the bongo or learn the French horn.

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