The Secret Life of the Felon

There has always been a story that circulates within my family about where my grandfather got all of his tattoos.  I once asked him as a child where he got them and he looked at me and said “During a bad time in my life” and that was all.  I later found out that he had been in jail for two years during the 50s (1956-1958).  At 16 he broke into a local liquor store with a couple of friends and the cops were called.  He friends got away but he was left behind and arrested.  He was charged with felony breaking and entering and sentenced to two years in jail.  To this day he does not know I have been told this story, at 20 years old he still believes I am in the dark about where he got his famous tattoos, which consist of a naked woman (which I thought was a duck when I was a child), a cross in honor of his sister, a tulip in honor of his mom, and a heart with his ex-girlfriends name in it (which is the same name as one of his sisters, so he likes to claim that is who he got it in honor of).  I was only told this story after he tried to purchase a gun about 6 years ago and was denied because he has a felony on his record.  My grandmother informed me of the story and told me to never let him on to the fact that I know.  Everyone in the family jokes about their rebel brother, cousin, uncle, etc… But I am never allowed to joke about my rebel grandfather. 

Jamie Byrd

#Folklore #myths #UNCChapelHill #anecdotes #ncfolklore #legends #families #familyhistory

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