Tattoo Archive in Winston-Salem preserves history of tattoos

Roy's Folks
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Tattoos were once taboo.

"At one time, it was sailors, prisoners and loose women. That's who got [tattoos]," said Chuck Eldridge, who owns and runs Tattoo Archives on Fourth Street. "If it could go mainstream, it has."

Eldridge got his first tattoos in the 1960s after seeing tattoos on his dad and uncle and fell in love with the art form. He eventually became interested in the history of tattoos

"Once you start digging in to it you go 'wow, this is pretty amazing subject here that goes on for centuries," Eldridge said.

He shares his interest at the tattoo archives where the walls are covered with photos and artifacts he's collected over the years.

"We actually describe it as the 3-ring circus of tattooing. We have a tattoo museum. We have a tattoo shop and a bookstore," Eldridge said.

His wife Harriet Cohen runs the bookstore where she ships out books to people all over the world.

The two met in California when Eldridge had a tattoo shop there.

"Chuck tattooed me and then asked me out on a date and then marrying him and moving to North Carolina," Harriet said.

Between now and April 30, the Tattoo Archive is hosting an exhibit on the history of tattoo clubs.

It's free and open to the public at 618 West Fourth St. in Winston-Salem.

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