Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Pair of Earrings and Southern Rose Tattoo

Returning from a tour of Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville Virginia, I took the leisurely route on VA highway 250, rather than Interstate 64. Cruising east, I picked up a few grocery bargains at Sharp Shopper Grocery Outlet. Further up the road in Waynesboro, I was drawn into the Artisan's Center of Virginia. Here I fell in love with the jewelry work of Dawn Estrin of Bijou Graphique and indulged myself in the lovely earrings you see posted above.

Using the yellow pages, I located two tattoo parlors in Waynesboro. Collecting the business cards of individual tattoo artists and tattoo parlors is a hobby of mine. The first, Ben Around is a branch of a shop in Charlottesville. A nice fellow from Youngstown, Ohio was minding the shop and after a chat he pointed me in the proper direction to find Southern Rose Tattoo.

Southern Rose was established in 1989 and is located on Commerce Avenue. Commerce Avenue parallels the railroad tracks and the shop is in a hard scrabble, down at the heels neighborhood that the economic times have bitten hard. One of the doors sports the hood of a 50's automobile and it takes a muscular effort to push the front door open. Once inside you nearly overdose on all the creepy eye candy. It's visual overload and it takes a while for you to notice that it's eerily quiet. No one is around. The front room is obviously a former bank building with its large, walk in bank vault still intact. Through an arched alcove you transition to a second room that was probably an old lunch counter. Its stools still await customers.

On this very cold Virginia day an old, metal wood burner is putting forth heat. Next to the heater lies an ancient mongrel. Slowly, he rises on arthritic limbs and makes his way towards me, this mixture of Old English Bulldog and maybe Pitt Bull or Boxer. After a sniffing inspection, his tail ventures a slow wag and he accepts a pat.

Finally, the staff emerges from a small, creaky door behind the lunch counter. Two men enter carrying armloads of of wood to stoke the fire. After putting their burdens down, they offer me a tour. "Have you seen the bicycles hanging from the ceiling?" Many curious artifacts are pointed out. A genuine, human skeleton has lost part of his jaw in a mishap. They reassure me the missing portion is safely stored in a drawer. Gold fish swim among treasures and jewels in a toilet bowl and a full-size, used marble mortuary slab covers a Coca-cola cooler. A taxidermy black bear pedals a bicycle with flag festooned handlebars. Every turn of the head and shift of gaze offers yet another fantastic image.

Should you find yourself in Waynesboro hankering for a tattoo or just lusting for some creepy eye candy, Southern Rose Tattoo is worth a visit.


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