I grew up with a tattooed father so his ink was just part of everyday life. I assumed all dads were covered in artwork and words. I thought watching a girl dance on each arm when he flexed was normal entertainment. I thought every man was military and wore the eagle across his chest as a badge of honor. Another thought recently crossed my mind that brought reality crashing down hard. The realization that one day I will never see my fathers tattoos again evoked a panic of loss. Documenting with pictures was my way of saving a part of my dad for when the inevitable day does come. The need to talk about his tattoos didn’t exist before because they were the same as his hair, ears or feet, just part of what made him human. He was open to the idea and shared small details about each one. His first tattoo was at the age of 14 in 1952 paying homage to his mother and brothers. Needless to say, she was not thrilled but his brothers were, so much so that they got matching tats. The infamous dancing girls on his forearms were from South Philly, and I assume by the twinkle in his eye as he spoke of them, that they were very good dancers in real life. The rest of his ink came from when he was in Parris Island, Okinawa, Ceylon, and other countries. All were obtained between the ages of 14 and 20. If I do say so myself, those girls still look mighty fine & fit for being 60+ years of age.
I find it ironic that I married a man without one tattoo, however, my daughter has made up for that with the start of a colorful collection. Hers will be shared in a post all their own because each one tells a story the same as my fathers.
*As a side note; My siblings and I were told our whole lives that he had two tattoos we were never seeing because it was on his butt cheeks. There was a “W” on each cheek so when he bent over it would say “WOW” and if he stood on his head it spelled “MOM”. Clearly, we believed everything he said until one day as an adult retelling the story you realize he was pulling our leg. I love laughing about that story with him and I will treasure it always. That and his “pull my finger” trick…always a fun one-NOT