“Pop” Paul Rogers born 118 years ago today, September 9, 1905. Anyone who ever had the privilege of meeting this kind and humble man, walked away a better person– if anything, through emulation of his attitude of acceptance and respect for his fellow man — he never met a tattooer he didn’t like! Much like Will Rogers ( American humorist, author and actor b.1879 d. 1935) Pop’s dry wit and common sense approach to the art of tattoo, he was a character in his own right.
Tom had spent many an hour down in Florida in the Iron Factory working with Paul on machines. Built pretty wonky back in the day as they were all hand fabricated, the machines ran like a top straight out of the box, though sometimes needed a bit of tweaking. There is something magical about listening to the buzz of Pop’s “Mad Bees” as he lovingly called his irons. Tom is now creating machines called “Worker Bees” as a grateful nod to the days of old.
Tom met Paul in 1978 through Dani Fowler of Richmond in Dani’s studio, Pelican Sunrise. Paul often came up from St. Augustine to work with Dani. A long relationship was established at that point in time. Tom received his P. Rogers tattoo at Ernie Carafa’s shop in Tom’s River, New Jersey in 1979. Letters were exchanged back and forth between Paul and Tom and his wife at the time, Juli, known now as Juli Moon www.julimoonstudio.com located in Lynn, Massachusetts. Such treasures to read! Pops letters are filled with diagrams, smile drawings and a litany of goings ons in Pop’s life. All of the letters have been saved in a file to one day make copies and posted for the world to read.
Such great contributions Paul Rogers made to the world of tattooing. One of the best reads about Pop is titled:
“Franklin Paul Rogers — The Father of American Tattooing” http://belzel.com
Tom and Ms. Mick met with Paul at the 1988 Richmond Tattoo Arts Festival, shortly afterward, Paul experienced a stroke thus ending his lengthy tattoo and machine building career. We last visited with Paul on Thanksgiving in Florida at Eric and Debbie Inskmiths www.inksmithtattoo.com home in 1989. It is a treasured memory and one day, we’ll pull the photos out of the archives and display them here.
Paul went to his eternal reward on February 27, 1990. His loss to all who knew him and the folks in the tattoo world who read of him is felt strongly to this day. But, we say with joy in our hearts HAPPY BIRTHDAY, POP! You’re with all the other tattooers in Heaven buzzing away! God bless 🙂
The Iron Factory now lives with Brandyn Feldman in Maryland. To visit the Iron Factory, please visit www.theoriginalironfactory.com
We will be at the 35th Richmond Tattoo Convention in October, 2023. Look for us, maybe then we’ll have those photos to show you! www.richmondtattooconvention.com