Tattoos have come along way since the days of simple flash graphics with no appeal or flavour. Gone are the times when tattoos were a taboo subject only to be worn by hard-men, gangsters, crooks or servicemen.

Few who have sat down for a tattoo are as unique as 81-year old Lewes native James Cassidy Sr. Accompanied by his son James Jr., Cassidy received some fresh ink on Friday, Nov. 16 - an anchor and chain with a captain’s wheel in the middle.

The new ink celebrates Cassidy’s past as a serviceman in the Navy. Cassidy spent the end of World War II on a minesweeping boat off the coast of Japan, and then served on ammunition ship during the Korean War. However, Cassidy said, there was another, more simple reason for getting the tattoo. “I’ve wanted it for a while, and felt like this was the time to get it,” he said as the tattoo needle buzzed in the background.

Cassidy received most of his tattoos while he was in the Navy - one done in San Diego, another in Norfolk, Va., and two in his time in Japan. One of the earliest ones he got was the names of his wife and son on his leg in 1948! 59 years on, the needle his his skin for another piece of bodyart.

Cassidy’s tattoo is similar to one his son had done on his leg that depicts a hula girl in an anchor with the sun in the background. James Jr. said of his leg tattoo, “Actually, Dad’s name and Mom’s name and the date is what made me have this one done because it says the same thing on it, ‘Jimmie Janie 1948,’ so that was the gist behind this.”

Dad wanted to add something to this,” James Jr. said of his father’s tattoo. “He decided it was time.” The tattoo was also a special occasion for artist Dilworth, who not only collaborated with Cassidy on the tattoo but also did the job for free. Cassidy said to Dilworth, “When I saw the job you did on Jim’s leg I said, ‘If anybody is going to do it on me it’s going to be that fellow.’”

The tattoo of the names was done using a traditional Japanese technique called irezumi. Cassidy said the tattoo was done by using a bamboo stick with a sharp needle that was hand-tapped into the skin using a small mallet. Cassidy said the process left him sore for a while and the two tattoos he had done this way were the only ones that really hurt to get.

If you talked to the guy too much, he gets carried away and really hits you,” he said of sitting down for the Japanese tattoos. He added that the process was very time-consuming and the only good thing about it was that he got to lie down on a table while the artist worked on him. He said the two tattoos combined cost him about 500 yen.

As far as his newest tattoo goes, Cassidy was very happy with Dilworth’s work. The tattoo went fairly quickly, only taking Dilworth around an hour and a half to do.