In the 70’s I was a rookie cop, walking a foot-beat in the downtown and Waikiki areas. During the early morning hours I would often stop by “China Seas Tattoo” shop on Smith street, just around the corner from Tammys Topless Titty Emporium , or just Tammys. I’d sit, talk story, and drink coffee with Jerry Collins, the shop owner. I met hard core bikers, a couple of Tokyo Yakuza, some mid-eastern gentleman with had something to do with the Shah of Iran, that’s another story in itself, and a whole cross section of many cultures. All coming to Honolulu with the express purpose of getting a tattoo from “Sailor Jerry“.
I don’t think Jerry ever slept because all I ever saw was him drinking black coffee, you know, the “keep you awake for a week” military coffee.
After he died, Jerry left the shop to Mike Maloney, who continued Jerry’s traditions and styles for many years, until time also took him.
Recently I was downtown and spent a little while inside the old shop talking with the new artists. What I saw of their work was really good and would have made Jerry smile. If you get a chance, attend the party. Jerry would have liked that.