Up Front


October 02, 2005

For the pack rat in you

Got a hankering for a 1902 Victrola and a huge stack of 78s to play on it? How about some enamel cookware like your grandma used? Kevin Brown's the man to see. In July, he opened Baltimore Pack Rat, a collectibles shop at 1816 N. Charles St. It contains hundreds of vintage items he had collected over the years but had no more room for at home.

Brown, a self-described "communications consultant by day, pack rat by night," says he opened the shop to create "a place where people could come collect and catch a memory from their past."

His offerings include old issues of Life magazine with notables such as James Baldwin and Thelonious Monk on the cover; tins; glass bottles (who knew Clorox once came in a bottle?); beads; Juice-a-Mat and Ice-a-Mat machines; and toys. He also sells new Afrocentric items made by a friend of his named Mama Clarisse.

Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Fridays and noon to 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information: 410-625-6440 or baltimorepackrat.com.

Chess for children

Chess is a lot like life. Every choice that you make, in chess and in life, has consequences, good ones and bad ones. That's what chess instructor Thomas A. Coplin tells the boys and girls who are members of the Unity Chess Club he founded in February 2004.

The club, which meets weekly for instruction and games at Unity United Methodist Church, 1433 Edmondson Ave., has the following mission: "To teach kids to make wise decisions that lead to healthy and successful lives."

Most of the participants are at-risk kids from the surrounding Harlem Park neighborhood; some have no parents. In addition to teaching them to play chess, Coplin tries to get them to confide in him and tries to steer them from violence. "Chess is a means to an end," he says. "I'm really teaching them about life." He adds that he's noticed an improvement in the behavior of a number of the kids since they joined the club.

Children ages 8 and up are welcome to join. They do not need to live in the area. Membership is free. The group meets every Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. Call 410-669-8042 for more information.

Electronic shout-outs

Ready to finally get onboard and send an electronic party invitation or greeting card? Hollah.com has colorful greetings and invitations "that reflect the unique style and humor of people of color." The Web site calls its greeting cards E-hollah and its invitations Soulvites. The occasions covered include birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Kwanzaa, Christmas, baby showers, housewarmings and graduations. In addition to personal messages, cards and invites can include animation and music. Some greetings are free, but users are encouraged to pay an annual fee of $11.95 to receive unlimited access to the service. Visit hollah.com.


In this 1981 photograph from The Sun's files, who is the group singing at this event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the slain civil-rights leader? Write to UniSun Flashback, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore MD 21278 or send e-mails to unisun@baltsun.com.

Answer to July's Flashback

UniSun salutes those readers who recognized the photograph published in the last issue. The picture, originally published on March 30, 1973, was of (left to right) Joanne Cooper, Craig Montgomery, Antoinette Thorton, Ray Anthony Johnson and Bryan Dundi Holt of Frederick Douglass High School practicing for Man of La Mancha.

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