We asked inked Inland 360 readers to share the stories behind their tattoos and they delivered.
Here’s the inaugural edition of Inland 360 Ink where we explore the popularity of body art.
Chris Currin, 48, Lewiston: “Only 1 percent make it.”
The hallucinations began after a 12-hour graveyard shift at the Lewiston mill.
“People just weren’t where they were supposed to be,” Chris Currin, 48, said about the strange things he saw the day in October 2012 when an aneurysm burst in his neck flooding his skull with six pints of blood.
He drove home, winterized his boat and went to bed. Upon waking hours later he collapsed. His wife, Cindy, called an ambulance that rushed the father of two to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center. In the intensive care unit he was put into a medically induced coma. He remembers nothing of the next 21 days except being able to think but not act in nearly palpable, inky blackness.
When he finally regained consciousness Dr. John W. Ho told him that only 1 percent of people survived an aneurysm that severe, Currin said. After a period of physical therapy in Post Falls and Spokane he was released to go home. He doesn’t remember who brought it up first but he and his wife started talking about a tattoo to “commemorate my little adventure and trip to the edge.”
He considered “1%” but thought many people would take that to mean something different. Then he thought about Superman.
“Only 1 percent make it. I’ve got to be somewhere close to super,” Currin said.
His wife bought him a gift certificate to Shaun Heilman at Main Street Tattoo in Lewiston and with the purchase he was entered into a drawing for another. When he won he thought, “Why not?”
Superman’s logo is emblazoned across his back surrounded by flames.
“Not too many people know it’s there, but it reminds me of my close scrape, the love and support of a very strong lady, my wife, the hell she went through while I was down and out, and just how lucky I am to even be here, much less be as high functioning as I am,” Currin said.
Sophie Fisher, 24, Moscow: “I was a bad, bad, bad girl.”
One day Sophie Fisher plans to be covered in tattoos.
She got her first tat at age 17 when she was still in high school.
“I was a bad, bad, bad girl,” said Fisher, who works at the Moscow Food Co-op and is now 24 with 13 tattoos. They are all in American tattoo style featuring bold black lines with a limited color palette.
Among the latest is the merman on her calf, the likeness of her partner, Riker Weires, a fisheries major who works in a hatchery in Stanley, Idaho.
“He’s so fish crazy he’s practically half fish himself,” Fisher said.
The merman sports the same tattoos Weires has on his body, said Fisher, whose tattoo was done by Simon Gentry at Bitterroot Tattoo in Moscow.
Katie Babino, 21, and Nancy Poole, 80, Clarkston: “I don’t think my mom thought we would actually do it.”
Nancy Poole and her granddaughter, Katie Babino, talked about getting matching tattoos for years, even before Babino turned 18.
Babino’s parents were horrified. Poole’s friends didn’t believe her.
“When I turned 80 I figured I can do what I want,” said Poole, who got her first tattoo this spring while Babino, 21,
got hers a few months before, both at Swan Family Ink in Moscow. Each sports a verse from the song, “A Bushel and a Peck.”
“I used to sing it to Katie when she was little,” Poole said.
A popular and slightly non-sensical tune from the 1950s, the song begins “I love you, a bushel and a peck. A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.” It was recorded by Perry Como with Betty Hutton and can be heard in the stage version of the Broadway musical “Guys and Dolls.”
Babino has, “A bushel and a peck” tattooed on her inner arm and Poole got “a hug around the neck”
tattooed on her back below her neck. Each tattoo is in the other person’s handwriting, although both agree the finished tattoos don’t look like either of their handwriting.
“I don’t write that neat,” Poole said.
After Babino shared photos of Poole’s tattoo session online, Poole started getting phone calls right away from friends accusing her of having “gone around the bend,” Poole said.
“I don’t think my mom thought we would actually do it,” Babino said. “I think it was cool for her to see our bond.”
Now her mom likes to share the story, Babino said. “I love my tattoo so much. My grandma is my best friend and the best person I know.”
Katie Rigby, 32, Lewiston: “I think the nursing homes in the future are going to be pretty colorful.”
Katie Rigby has lost track of how many tattoos she has. Not every tattoo has a story, she said, but she definitely has a few that do.
Rigby’s right arm is covered in tattoos and among them is her grandmother, Margaret Kathleen LaFord, as a World War II pin-up girl. Rigby is named after her grandmother who served with the Army and Air Forces in Germany during the war. She often talked about it as the best time in her life, Rigby said. It’s where she met her husband, Harry LaFord, who brought her home to Lewiston.
Rigby’s father died when she was in high school and her family moved around a lot. Her grandmother was the one consistent thing in her life, she said.
“She constantly told me stories of her time in the Army and how she was my grandpa’s boss,” Rigby said. “She’d often get tears in her eyes because she missed it so much.”
Rigby has another tattoo reminder of her grandmother, “No Regrets” tattooed on her wrist, something her grandma said all the time, said Rigby who has gotten work done by artists in several states.
“It’s funny how people will ask me, ‘Aren’t you going to be worried about what your tattoos will look like when you’re 80?’ No, I never do. When I’m old and my mind isn’t what it used to be, I can go back and look at my tattoos and be reminded of where I was at that point in my life. With my generation and the younger generations, tattooing is becoming more and more common. It’s odd nowadays to know someone without a tattoo. I think the nursing homes in the future are going to be pretty colorful.”
Jody Colegrove, 60, Genesee: “He will always be a hero.”
When Jody Colegrove feels like complaining about her life she looks at her leg for a reality check.
On her thigh is a tattoo of the Bataan Death March statue in Las Cruces, N.M., with the years, 1941-1946, her father served in the Army Air Forces.
Of the 22,000 Americans captured by the Japanese on the Philippines’ Bataan Peninsula, only about 15,000 returned. Wayne J. Petrie was one of them. A 1937 graduate of Lewiston High School, Petrie was taken prisoner in 1942. The next 42 months of physical and mental torture were endured with only “a will to live and faith in prayer,” he later said.
For 24 days the soldiers marched on one meal a day and very little water. Many men carried others, a scene the statue displays. Those who fell were bayoneted or shot. At the camp, hundreds died daily of malaria. If someone escaped, 10 others were shot in retaliation but first they had to dig their own graves. Petrie found himself against the wall to be shot several times, Colegrove said.
To get out he volunteered to work in a Japanese labor camp. He toiled for 18 hours a day in a condemned coal mine at Fukuoka 17, one of the worst. Accidents were common. At one point he made friends with a guard who warned him that they were going to blow up part of the mine, giving him time to warn others and escape, Colegrove said. Every 11 days the men were allowed a day of rest, spent cleaning camp and standing at attention in the sun eight to 10 hours at a time.
The guards deserted the camp after the atomic bombs were dropped. Petrie didn’t wait for help but commandeered a train to get himself and other prisoners away. He came home with a Purple Heart and served as Lewiston’s postmaster from 1955-72. He died at age 52 of N
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Everything he endured he infused with humor, said his daughter.
“He will always be a hero and I wanted to always remember: When the going gets tough, you have no idea what tough is,” said Colegrove, whose tattoo was completed on Veterans Day by Shaun Heilman at Main Street Tattoo in Lewiston.
Katie Ripley, 28, Lewiston: “Names are bad juju.”
Katie Ripley is well on her way to being completely covered in tattoos.
Among them is Edward Scissorhands on her shin. A Japanese beckoning cat waves from one arm. Her first tattoo was a pair of dice with the words “Lucky” that her mom let her get when she was still in high school. Her first visible tattoo was the word “empathy” below the knuckles of one fist to reminder her not to judge others.
“I’m not comfortable in my own skin so I have pretty art on my body,” said Ripley, 28, who is married to tattoo artist Ian Ripley of Skin Deep Design in Lewiston. As a couple they each got a lightsaber tattooed on the side of their ring fingers.
“Names are bad juju,” Ripley said about the decision to get something fun and silly to mark their union.