‘Nice Ink, Granny!’: Local Senior Brings Color to Chicago

When Helen Lambin got a small tattoo for her 75th birthday, she had no intention of ever getting another one. But when she walked out of the tattoo parlor, “it made me feel sort of adventurous and wild,” she remembers.

She also felt asymmetrical. So went back for another tattoo on the other shoulder. Both could easily be covered by her sleeves. “You know, I didn’t want everyone knowing I had a tattoo.” 

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That was nine years ago. Lambin has since visited tattoo artist Dave McNair at Chicago Tattoo and Piercing many times. And she no longer tries to hide her tattoos, which cover her arms and hands, upper back and lower legs.   

In fact, she loves the attention, most of which, she says, has been positive. One young person commented as she passed, “Nice ink, granny!”

Helen Lambin shows Jay Shefsky her collection of tattoos.Helen Lambin shows Jay Shefsky her collection of tattoos.

It’s been especially fun to ride the L, where her tattoos are an easy icebreaker, especially with younger riders. “It was utterly unexpected, but I enjoy it,” she said with delight. “It gives me a chance to talk with all sorts of people that I would probably like to talk to, but normally you’re just not going to interact.”

When I went to interview her for Chicago Tonight, she gave me a tour of her “ink.” I didn’t want to get too personal, but had to ask if there were any tattoos we couldn’t see. She laughed loud and said there weren’t.

“At my age and in my state of life, there’s no point in having them where you can’t show them. Because who’s going to admire them besides me!”

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