In her other life, Anita LoPiccolo is a...


January 09, 1994|By Patrick A. McGuire

In her other life, Anita LoPiccolo is a 'buckskinner'

Sometimes Anita Lopiccolo thinks she was born out of her time.

And sometimes, if you see her sitting in her tepee, dressed in the regalia of a Teton Sioux, you might even agree.

For even though she spends her 9-to-5 hours as a very modern producer of television commercials, she exists in her private life, on her farm in Harford County's Forest Hill, as "White Storm," an American-Indian woman straight out of the buckskin era of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

In fact, it is in this guise that Ms. Lopiccolo visits area schools, complete with replicas of Indian artifacts she has made, to spread word of Indian culture and the growing popularity of the "buckskin" hobby.

"What we try to do is tell kids how Indians lived," she says. "Kids grow up with TV and dishwashers. They don't appreciate what it took to survive."

In the same tradition as re-enactors who dress in the garb of American Civil War units, "buckskinners" gather at sites across the country -- known as "primitive rendezvous" -- throughout the year to swap tales and techniques of the period from 1780 to 1840.

At a typical rendezvous, run under the auspices of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association of Friendship, Ind., participants must dress in period clothing and are forbidden to use power or running water.

Some Indian organizations, like the National Congress of American Indians, are critical of non-Indians who try to imitate tribal medicine or religious ceremonies. But Ms. Lopiccolo says her interest is in educating people about the way people survived daily life on the frontier.

"I started doing this mainly to acquire an appreciation for the Indian," she says. "After reading about the Teton Sioux I decided that's where my spirit lies. I love that simplicity, the adventure. My heart feels good there."

There are those who, upon seeing an old radio perched on a mantelpiece, imagine the crackling voice of a studio crooner broadcasting on a long-ago Saturday night.

Mark V. Stein admires vintage radios not for their evocation of another musical era, but for their craftsmanship and highly stylized design.

Classic wood radios, finned and chrome-grilled and art deco sleek, adorn shelf upon shelf in Mr. Stein's Baltimore home. "There is probably not another collection like this in the country," he says.

Mr. Stein, 35, specializes in wood and chrome radios from about 1933 to 1941, a time when old-fashioned craftsmanship fused with the futuristic sensibility of the machine age.

It was an inspired but fleeting moment in American design history. Soon, handmade gave way completely to machine-made, and natural materials succumbed to plastic.

Mr. Stein bought his first radio -- a 1936 Zenith -- in 1982 at the old Edmondson Drive-In flea market on U.S. 40. Since then, he has bought and sold hundreds of vintage radios through his home-based company, Radiomania.

Once, Mr. Stein could find reasonably priced radios in good condition at flea markets and similar spots. Then, vintage radios became a hot collectible. Today, discoveries are tougher, prices are higher -- a chrome model shaped like a tombstone can fetch up to $1,500, Mr. Stein says -- and new acquisitions can require extensive refinishing.

Do his radios work?

"I'm always asked that," says Mr. Stein, CEO of Sinai Care and director of managed care at Sinai Hospital.

Anyone could fix a vintage Zenith or Emerson, says this highly specialized collector. So he takes great pains to restore the cabinetry of his radios, but rarely their innards. "What's the point?" he asks.

Stephanie Shapiro

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