Monday, November 3, 2014

My Daddy was a Tattoo Canvas (before it was cool)

My (step-)dad was a military man. By 1960, he had tattoos all over his body. The artist(s) who did the work deserve praise. A knife pierced the skin of his right forearm. His rank and insignia was blazoned on his right upper arm. A black panther clung to his left forearm, while on his upper left arm, an intriguing woman sat on her haunches, watching everything with a seductive look. Her hands behind her head, she wore a halter top, and shorts. She was an exception. I don’t mean she was the only female tattooed on his body. She was the only one dressed. All of the other women were outlined nudes, in various poses, along his torso and legs. Each would be considered “soft porn” today, but in 1960, it was scandalous!

As an aside, the woman on his upper arm was only ‘dressed’ because he had gone to his mother’s house while on furlough, wearing a tee shirt. She drove him to the local tattoo parlor and made him “tattoo some clothes on that poor girl.”  (Ha!  Go Grandma!)

By the time my dad passed, the tattoos showed their age. The cougar was an unrecognizable blob, his serial numbers were unreadable, and the women were smudged and faded whispers of what they once were.

“Smarter Every Day” recently released two videos that brought my dad and his numerous tattoos to mind. One shows how tattoo needles work by piercing the skin (in slow motion). The second explains the way tattoos can be removed, and has a demonstration of the procedure as well.

While my dad did express regret, from time to time, regarding the extent of the artistry on his body, I’m not sure he would’ve had them removed. On another note, none of his five children have chosen to get tattooed. So far.

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