Postcards send a message of rich heritageMonroe S...


June 12, 1994|By Sandra Crockett

Postcards send a message of rich heritage

Monroe S. Frederick II loved his job snapping photographs of celebrities that appeared in Ebony and Jet magazines. But two years ago, the Baltimore native retired after more than 25 years at the magazines and moved back to the Druid Hill home where he grew up.

Now his photographs are really going places.

Mr. Frederick's "Heritage Postcards" collection pictures everything from his elderly aunt scrubbing her marble steps to a Billie Holiday statue.

The collection is composed of 21 postcards depicting African-American figures and scenes of Baltimore life. "Everywhere I have gone and looked at postcards, I would never see ones with black people doing anything," Mr. Frederick says.

Before tackling the project, Mr. Frederick decided to learn more about the subject.

"I sat down and I studied history," he says.

On the back of each postcard, the history of the picture is told. For instance, the postcard of Maryland native Benjamin Banneker tells where he was born and of his contributions to society, such as serving on a surveying team led by Pierre L'Enfant to lay out the District of Columbia.

Mr. Frederick notes that some people say there's not enough room to write much history on the back of postcards.

"But I want them to have value other than a postcard," Mr. Frederick says. "[This is] not something just to write and toss away. It's something to keep."

MA The postcards are sold at card shops in and around Baltimore.

@ Oh sure. Anyone can make a basic dog balloon in about 30 seconds -- a little inflation here, a little twisting there and woof, woof.

Try creating balloons in the shape of a chicken laying an egg with a double yolk and inside the yolks, egg-shaped balloons. Ron "Woody" Covington, a 40-year-old plumber by day, has done the funky chicken balloon.

He is the Balloon Guy.

"My wife thinks it's a midlife crisis," says Mr. Covington of Rodgers Forge. He's a clown, magician and "balloon sculptor" for hire in the Baltimore area. "Not a day goes by I don't make something. I have to, just to keep the feel."

For eight years, he's had the feel. He knows, maybe by some divine plumber's instinct, how much to inflate a balloon without blowing up the project. He knows how soft to make the bubbles and how much pressure to use when twisting.

"It just comes to me. I actually do dream about it sometimes," says Mr. Covington, who has worn his work on his sleeve -- and shoulders -- and head.

His first balloon work was a parrot on a swing. He now twists and pumps balloons into the shapes of scuba divers, Ninja Turtles, Mickey Mouse and any-animal-you-want. He'll manhandle a balloon into the shape of a sea bass or crab, but he has problems with making dolphins (round balloons don't make good pointy fins).

Mr. Covington hasn't tried making balloons shaped as local celebs, such as Cal Ripken Jr.

"I guess I'd have to get a silver balloon for his hair," he says.

Rob Hiaasen

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