Thursday, April 7, 2011


Yep, here I am.  After researching local tattoos, it occurred to me that you are never too old to get your first tattoo.  Here I am at "Steve's Tattoo Shop" with Steve himself doing the honors.  His shop is the only licensed tattoo business in the area.  I thought I deserved the best.   As usual I approached this task with undaunted courage.  There will be more about Steve later.  Find out about my tattoo at the end of the blog.

My son has been encouraging me for several months to do a blog on the tattoos in Culpeper.  It seemed like a good choice because you see them everywhere you go and everywhere you look....... that is until you go out looking for them for photographs and then there a none,!   One day I even walked in Walmart for 20 minutes without seeing a single tattoo!  I can hear you saying, "no way," but let me assure you it is a fact.  That must be a world record!!!!  The task to photograph this blog became somewhat harder because right after I decided to pursue a tattoo blog, the weather turned unseasonably cold and all obvious tattoos were covered up.  Anyway, I persevered and here we go.......  This is such a rich subject that this will be Part I and will be continued at a later date. 

I became interested, no curious, about tattoos at the tender age of 12 in my home state of Idaho.  That year I had the privilege of participating in Boy Scouts with a great leader named Rasmussen.  His first name has become lost in time, but it doesn't matter because everybody, including the boys, called him "Rass."  He had been a sailor in World War II  and had a rather large tattoo.  His tattoo was a young Hawaiian hula girl who lived on his chest from his collar bone to the bottom of his diaphragm.  I remember her well....... she wore a grass skirt and that is all!!!  When we went swimming and Rass was bare chested, we were all in little boy heaven.....his tattoo was as close to the real thing as we would get for years.

A well known axiom of my Idaho boyhood was that you could get a girl with a tattoo to do anything.  That was somehow pretty exciting except for the fact that I had never seen a girl with a tattoo and I wasn't sure exactly what I would get her to do.  My young mind pondered having her do my homework or mowing our lawn.......  ah youth!

In about 1994 I was working at Robinson Secondary School when another tattoo event occurred. A rather high profile senior girl and her well known mother got matching tattoos on their shoulders.  That was a bit of a scandal and signaled that things had changed for good!  There was a time when it seemed only warriors returning from war, waitresses in Honky Tonks or bikers had tattoos.  Now everybody has them from all occupations, ages and walks of life.

Let's look at some people with tattoos in the Pepper.

I went to the Haymarket Cleaners which is located in the strip mall just behind Chili's restaurant to pick up clothes.  As I pulled in I saw this big young man get out of his Jeep and go into a store.  I could see from about 50 yards away that he had a significant tattoo on his arm so I grabbed my camera.  This is Travis Blake and he had this pink ribbon put on his arm in the memory of his grandmother who died of breast cancer.  He has lived in the Pepper for about 10 years.
Travis helped me realize how personal most tattoos are.

Jessica Lohr obviously works for Lowes.  When I am preparing for a blog I just keep my camera with me and I was lucky to have it with me this day.  I found this very interesting and asked her if she would explain the tattoo.  She was happy to.  She told me that she and her husband are both Christians and that she loves tattoos.  However, he hates them, but he was willing to support her with this particular one because it fits their family philosophy.  This is the Greek work for rebirth.  Jessica was the first person I would meet with a religiously oriented tattoo, but certainly not the last.  In fact I found lots of them and I have been told that religious expressions are probably the most common of tattoos.

I was walking by the Mountain Kim Martial Arts and noticed an instructor working with a couple of young boys inside.  I just dropped in to watch and see if there was anything there to photograph.  This gentleman came out of the office to see if he could help me.  He is Dennis Byrne and co owner of the school.  His wife is Gabby Byrne and she is the Master and head of the school.  They have two boys and a baby on the way.  I told Dennis that I was looking for tattoos and he volunteered that he had a couple.  Here they are and  they have a religious theme.  The clover on his left wrist represents the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The work on his right arm he called "Holy Knots" and are again a Christian symbol representing the Trinity. 

I guess the word got around that I was tattoo hunting because this young lady called me to tell me that she had tattoos that she was willing to share.  She works at Buffalo Wild Wings and I made an appointment to meet her there.  However, I falsely assumed that she would be the only waitress there with tattoos and so I did not take her name.  When I got to the BWW a lady approached to ask if she could help me.  I told her that I was looking for "a tattooed waitress."  She replied that everyone who works there has tattoos.  Sooo...she and I had a conversation.  She told me that she had nine and while generally happy, she wished that she could get rid of a couple because at age 42 they were fading and/or losing their shape.  She did confirm what I had heard about tattoos and that is that they are the Lays Potato Chips ad that says "nobody can eat just one"..... it seems that no one can stop at just one of these pieces of art.

Anyway,  Jada Turner and  her tattoos found me.  She had one on her wrist that is shown above and a pair of angel wings on her upper back.  Many tattoos are not where people can see them.  They are personal and sometimes private (think of Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr...I would rather not, but you can....come to think of it, theirs may have been the most public private tattoos, ever!).  I was not looking for those although I am sure they are interesting.  Jada has worked at Buffalo Wild Wings for the past three years.  Her tattoo is unique (check above) because if you look at it one way it spells her name, Jada; turned upside down and you have her boyfriend, Dave's name.  Pretty clever I think.  

This is Steve Schroeder and he is the owner of Steve's Tattoo Shop which is the only licensed establishment of its kind in Culpeper.  I first met him at Culpeper Days and told him that someday I would be doing a blog on tattoos.  Of course he was all for it.  With all that skin art he can look tough, but trust me....this is a nice guy with a great sense of humor.  He has been around the business for 20 years....the last four right here in the Pepper. His shop is on Montanus behind Target.  This guy has stories.........

On a couple of occasions Steve had invited me to drop by his shop.  So I knew if I wanted tattoos, that is where I would find them.  When I walked in for the first time I found them busy at work.  This lady is Jackie Kommes.  She is not only an office manager, but also a mom and a grandma!  I have to tell you that this is not her only tattoo, just her latest.  She is celebrating her survival over breast cancer with a pink ribbon.   She had a lot to say about tattoos.  She loves hers.  The best analogy that I can make is that some people seem to love their tattoos with the same intensity that others do their dogs.  She confirmed that this is an addictive activity and opined that this was likely not her last.

The artist here is Blaine Heath.  He has worked at this shop the last two years.  He told me that he has worked on teachers, lawyers, accountants, and just about every kind of person you can name with one notable exception.  He said, at least in Culpeper, he has not tattooed a doctor....physician, that is.  I found that for every person who openly displays their tattoos, there is at least one who has them where they can be covered up for work.  I have personally seen them at church, on bank tellers, nurses, teachers, counselors, and a plethora of others.  They are everywhere.....unless as I noted are looking for them.

By the way, legitimate skin artists serve an apprenticeship with a licensed practitioner to prepare them for the work.  There is a lot to know before you jump into this occupation.

This is Ricky May who is a lifetime resident of Culpeper.  He owns a landscaping business.  His tattoo is rather small and tasteful.  It celebrates his fiance, Virginia Carter. 

Tim Canton was just recently finished his time in the army and came to Culpeper to visit with his family.  He plans to settle in California.  His tattoo is, as you can see, a dragon.  He had the outline done in Santa Barbara, California and the shading in Warrenton, Va. 

Jen recently moved to our area from Canada.  She has pretty extensive tattooing on her body she tells me.  This particular tattoo is of a glass broken heart that symbolizes when she was going through a tough time.  Things are excellent for her now.

As I drove past Yowell Park on one of the recent nice days, I could see the tattoos on a skateboarder who was practicing his skills and so I pulled in to see what he was about.  He is Danny Griffen and it turns out that he is a cook at Buffalo Wild Wings.  He has two tattoos.  The first is shown above and features a Fender Stratocaster guitar with wings.  Danny is a player and loves to jam with his friends.  He used the strat because it is an iconic guitar and much like the one he plays.  He added wings to signify that he intends to play forever.  On his forearm is a rather large word, following the faith theme of so many others, the word is "Blessed."

At Logan's Hair Salon I found Joey who describes himself as a "coworker."  I have heard he actually is a bit of a star!  He has been at that salon for 15 years.  His tattoo speaks for itself.

A now for the big finish.....this is a tale of two tattoos.  First let me introduce the players who are both my neighbors.  On the left is Shantelle Brausen who moved to Virginia from Minnesota four years ago.  Seven months ago she moved into my neighborhood, two houses away from me.  Shantelle is a stay-at-home mom.  On the right is Angelica Sapp who is a Sales Manager for ADP Security Systems.  She is a life long Virginia native and also lives on my street.....two houses away also, but on the other side of the street.  That means that Angelica and Shantelle live right across the street from each other.  When I decided to blog about tattoos I immediately thought about Shantelle's Micky Mouse.  Then a friend told me that Angelica had a Mickey on her ankle too.  What a coincidence!  Women from different parts of the country and both end up neighbors in the Pepper and both have a Mickey Mouse tattoo on their ankle!  Shantelle originally wanted a Celtic religious symbol on her ankle, but it was too big and too complex.  She said that going to her second choice, "was easy" since she had always loved Mickey. ( Note, on the back of her heel  is a Mickey Mouse bandaid. )  Angelica had a much more serious reason for hers.  She loved Mickey Mouse and so did her special grandfather.  One day he went to the store and came back with  Mickey Mouse as a gift for Angelica.  Later that day he passed away.  This Mickey celebrates her grandfather.  You may note that Angelica's Mickey has a halo.  These neighbors are both crazy about their tattoos...I am truly amazed at the coincidence.

OK, OK.... it's me again with a true confession.  I really didn't get a tattoo, but you have to admit that Steve and I deserve Oscars for our performances.

That's it for now.  However, there will be a "Tattoos pt 2"  in the future.  If you want to be part of it let me know at:

Be sure to watch for,  "Snapshots of Culpeper by Rich Crowley"  in the Culpeper Times.


  1. Yes!! I saw the subject matter and got excited.... but a mention? We have hit the big time! :)

    Still "collecting art" twenty some years later. And to add to the scandal I will admit that mom wrote me a note to get out of school that day.

  2. great blog :) And it's always funny to see people you know in here! (I know Tim Canton)

  3. Great audience catcher!! Jonathan and I were dying! Loved the article. Can't wait for pt 2!!