Off beaten path: Students explore unique hobbies, find new passions

In high school, students rarely find time to do the hobbies that they love. Although building a tank drum and restoring old typewriters are not conventional hobbies, seniors Isaiah Gilbert and Braeden Forsthoff take pride in these unusual hobbies.

Braeden started restoring an old typewriter as a part of an extension of his historical reenactment hobby.

“One of the personas I portray is a soldier in the 14th armored division during World War ll,” Braeden said. “All of the paperwork that your average soldier would have had would have been typed up almost entirely on a typewriter. I wanted to do the paperwork like they would have.”

Braeden’s English teacher Melinda Mack is impressed with his interest in the “outdated” form of technology.

“I thought it was fascinating that a teenager was interested in a piece of technology that hasn’t really been in use in his lifetime,” Mack said. “I love to see young people embrace a piece of history and find something out of the ordinary to pursue.”

Although the process of restoring a typewriter can be tedious, the end result is what makes the process worthwhile.

“I get the parts cleaned up, and some of the parts are chrome and those have to be sent off to be rechromed, and the only place that does that is in Houston,” Braeden said. “Parts that are painted get repainted, decals get repainted on, and any parts that need to get bent back to shape get bent back to shape. It is basically just getting the typewriter into working order and reassembling it.”

Braeden is not done restoring his typewriter yet, but he continues to work on it and has another typewriter at home: a 1940 Smith Corona.

“I hope he knows the story behind some of the typewriters he works on,” Mack said. “I saw one in an antique store and took a picture of it so I could show it to him. It gave us something to talk about besides English. He even turned in an assignment that he typed on one of his typewriters.”

Restoring an old typewriter is a unique hobby that allows Braeden to study mechanics from a time before electronics took over.

“My favorite part of doing it is actually getting to see how all the linkages work together,” Braeden said. “When you press a key, a series of linkages, arms, springs, a lever and the set of typefaces springs up to print onto the paper.”

Isaiah also enjoys a hobby off the beaten path by turning an old tank into a drum.

“I watched this guitarist on Youtube a lot, and he got this thing called a handpan and he made a video of it and was playing it,” Isaiah said. “I thought it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I showed it to my dad and he was like ‘Yeah, we can make that’, so we started the whole process of trying to make it.”

Although the process took about six months, Isaiah had a lot of fun getting to do something out of the ordinary.

“We wrote out the plan and we got a propane tank,” Isaiah said. “It was Christmas or Thanksgiving break and we were at my grandparents house. We were bored, so we started working on it.”

Isaiah’s Spanish teacher, Allison Robertson, recalls what she thought the first time she saw the drum that Isaiah had made in class.

“Isaiah’s drum is beautifully made and very smooth,” Robertson said. “It is symmetrical with a unique finish and the tone is unlike other drums-it has a more ringing quality. I was impressed with the craftsmanship.”

Although, making the drum was an adventure in itself, getting to showcase his hard work to others was a huge reward.

“Getting to show people was fantastic,” Isaiah said. “I loved showing the drum to other people and pouring all my creativity and inspiration into it. It was really fun and really special.”

However, one of the best moments during the process came when Isaiah performed during his church’s youth choir concert on the drum.

“I brought it to the show and other people did their acts,” Isaiah said. “People were still talking and there were kids. But when I played, it was dead silent and everybody was listening intently.”

Although it can be hard to enjoy hobbies while juggling a high school schedule, making time to do the things that you love can be relaxing and rewarding.

“It takes time and concentration to become proficient enough in a skill or activity to feel proud of your accomplishments, yet many people give up before they get really good at something,” Robertson said. “If you would like to learn a hobby, ask around. Hobbies are a great way to connect with people. Most adults love to introduce people to their hobby and are happy to help you get started-sometimes even sharing materials and tools as well as knowledge. “

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