Friday, October 17, 2014

A real Tattoo has a story

I'm embarrassed by older retired folks coming to Mexico and feeling this sudden rush of minimal freedom and feel the need/urge to get a token tattoo on their ankle or small of their back.  What does it mean besides they had nothing better to do that day and no disapproving social or work environment.

I'm also completely baffled by the "body art" crowd that is so stylish in some circles along with piercing and what ever body disfigurement routine you can think of.

My two tattoo experiences were what I would classify as real world expressions. The first with a Navy buddy in the slums of Hong Kong in the early 1960's (Vietnam).  The second was my Grandfather who worked his way from Cabin Boy at age 14 to being a Captain and always on a sailing vessel where wind was the primary power source.

Hong Kong was an R&R (Rest and Recreation) port for ships working off the coast of Vietnam so we would spend from 10 days to two weeks there doing very little work and going into town early in the afternoon.  No over nights and the little water taxis would bring us back by 1AM.

My buddy Mike was a Bosun's Mate looking like he might make a career of it and he heard of a tattoo place that he wanted to check out. Problem was it was up in the rooftop slums and he wanted company.  We ascended 4-5 flights of stairs and found the little apartment/shack up top. The artist suggested we send out for a six-pack of beer to take the first bit of pain off. He broke out his cigar box of tools which consisted of needles wrapped in thread to be dipped in various colors. Mike was set on an Eagle across his chest. First day was the outline in blue/black ink.  The second day the color filling began.  I helped Mike into his third day and that was it for me.  It was needle pokes with colored ink from the thread.  Took 2 10 day periods in Hong Kong to complete.

Similar basic full chest tattoo

Roof top slums in Hong Kong

The story about my Grandfather is he had a few tattoo's but the best was the Hula Girl on his Popeye sized forearm. Hula girl was probably from Hawaii but who knows if from the early 1900's.  He could make her dance by flexing his muscle but he would rather tell sea stories about different ships and how he skied to school in Norway on barrel staves. Great story teller and had great books on Tall Ships.


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The construction of the house finished in April 2011 and I'm pretty much settled in. As of March 2014 I'm in preparation for rain mode for this coming summer. That includes sealing and painting things and dealing with drainage issues from last year.

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