war paint


Robert Dorn
United States Navy

This tattoo? Hotel street. Honolulu. Three dollars.

I was a kid, 17 years old, and I wanted to be a salt, like Popeye. We all did -- we wanted to be big shots. So we walked down Hotel street on liberty -- Hotel was where all the tattoo shops were and where all the sailors hung out. Let's go in there and hey! we'll be salts -- you know, everybody gets a tattoo in the Navy -- and you're thinking: I'm going to be grown up. And we all thought we were going to be grown up. Some of the guys got girls names -- "Mary" or "Jane" and they came home and they married someone with a different name. Some guys got tattooed with nude Hawaiian dancers, and they had to put skirts on them when they came home. I could tell you some stuff -- you wouldn't believe  what some guys got tattooed on them. But back then, everything went -- you were going over seas -- I guess if you were coming home it would be a different story.

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