Life Etched on Skin

By Emily Hoover |
As told by Christofer Emerson of Cummington, Mass.

First tattoo was November of ’95. It was at Dragon Master Tattoo in Memphis, Tenn. A lot of my family—cousins, uncles, sister—they all had tattoos. Just always wanted to get one.

Tom White at Stay True Tattoo [on West King Street] did that one, World War II army helmet. The logo in middle of it is the 86 Black Hawk Division. It was what my grandfather on my father’s side—it was the division he fought in [during] World War II.

The Flogging Molly one, it’s a pirate woman straddling an anchor. It came off the back of one of their tour t-shirts. I always liked the band and thought the design was cool. I wanted a pin-up girl tattoo.

That’s the Arrogant Bastard Ale logo. It’s a microbrewery out of San Diego. I was in California for 2 1/2 years. It’s just something to remind me of my time I spent out there.

And there’s the lobster. The lobster…I lived in Maine for 10 years; I loved it up there. Wanted something to remind me of my time I spent up there. It’s holding a banner with the word dirigo, which is Latin for forward, which is also the Maine state motto.

That’s my nautical star with an anchor and a banner with the U.S. Navy on it. I did ten years in the Navy. My grandfather, my other grandfather, was in the Navy during World War II. I had two uncles that were in the Navy. The colors in the stars are the John Deere colors, because after my grandfather got out of the Navy he became a dairy farmer and was always having John Deere equipment.

My—it’s a VP 26 trident logo. It was a P3 squadron I was in at the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine. Did four years—they were some of the best years of my life.

It’s my friend’s band up in Portland, Maine. It’s kind of like a sludge metal, almost kind of like—they’re influenced, really, by The Melvins, Black Sabbath, that type of metal. It’s a really bad ass…looking logo.

It’s got the Latin phrase: Ad astera per alia porci—which is: to the stars on the wings of a pig—which was how John Steinbeck would sign some of his correspondents. I’ve always been a big reader. Steinbeck was always one of my favorites. When I was in the Navy, I worked on the P3 Orion, which all the maintainers referred to as the flying pig.

The…Rolling Stones long tongue with a rebel flag in it, because at 18-years-old, you tend to get stupid tattoos. The first one, every now and then I look at it and say: “What the—why the hell did I do that?” But, it also represents a part of my life I can’t forget and don’t want to forget. So, I look at it and say: “Hey, that’s when I was fresh out of boot camp, 18-years-old, out on my own, really, for the first time and could make my own decisions.” Sometimes you’re just stuck with the decisions that you make.

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