|Cover illustration for Puck (1917). Library of Congress.|
Charles W. Purcell, Jr., Getting Under Your Skin in The Baltimore Sun, December 8, 1946, p. 15—
“Before and during the war [WW2] all my work was putting [tattoos] on, now it’s taking off,” says Charles J. Gelzer. To the servicemen who climb the narrow stairs to the second floor, one-room parlor of his East Baltimore Street establishment he is known as Tattoo Charlie.
Seventy-five percent of m work is covering up names, initials, and work that returning servicemen don’t want their wives or girlfriends to see,” he says. “I also do a lot of retouching and going over work that is undesirable, poor jobs done by beginners.”
Ironically, when Charlie camouflages an old girl friend’s names, he uses a cluster of forget-me-nots.
“During the war,” he says, “a lot of guys were turned down by recruiting stations until they had obscene or immoral tattoos covered.
“All I had to so with the usual nude designs was to put on a grass skirt and a lei, then the fellow was ready for service.”…
“I never had a complaint about my work until a few weeks ago,” he says, “A woman who had been in before, came in and demanded that I remove or do over her husband’s name inscribed on her arm. They had just been divorced.”
WOMEN IN ARMED SERVICES PAY VISIT TO TATTOO ARTIST in St. Louis Times-Tribune, April 5, 1943—
[St Louis Tattoo artist Bert Grimm’s] most original customer, a girl, changed the bromidic “Death Before Dishonor” to “Death Before Dishwashing.” His most chagrined patron was a man who brought in a Chinese line [of characters] which he said meant “good luck, farewell.” A few days after the words had been written on him a Chinese laundryman interpreted the inscription as “four pairs of socks, two suits of underwear, five handkerchiefs.”