Circa 1920s– Lillian La France in her early Motordrome riding days. This must be 1924, or so. She looks a little green, and that signature smile and exuberant confidence is not quite present.
“It was the thrill of risking my life that made me to take to drome riding. I was the girl who flirts with death. From childhood I was inspired by wanderlust. I was always alone, dreaming of adventures– how to ride a pony out West, to follow my calling to fame. This was my secret. I shared it with no one.”
The Legendary August “Cap” Coleman’s Tattoo parlor in Norfolk, Virginia –1936. Photo by William T. Radcliffe © The Mariners’ Museum/Corbis
Before Ed Hardy and even Sailor Jerry, there were a couple of guys who are widely considered the forefathers of American Tattooing– August “Cap” Coleman, and the youngling he heavily influenced and mentored, Franklin Paul Rogers. When you trace the history of tattooing, a good chunk of the great flash icons can be traced directly back to these American masters. They blazed a counterculture trail back when the only guys (and gals) that sported body ink were either in the service, criminals, or circus and sideshow freaks. Tattoos were not taken lightly. Nowadays, ink has lost some of it’s original rebellious sting– but for the bearer, it often represents a deeply personal story and is worn like a badge of honor.
August “Cap” Coleman personally manned his legendary tattoo parlor six days a week, circa 1936. Photo by William T. Radcliffe © The Mariners’ Museum/Corbis