The beloved Kentile Floors sign was removed from the skyline over a year ago now, but it’s nowhere close to forgotten. Homegrown Brooklynite Emory Campbell recently had a miniature version of the sign tattooed onto her left bicep, so she can keep it with her forever, no matter the fate of the actual sign. Brownstoner interviewed Emory on what it’s like to carry a reminder of a bit of authentic Brooklynalia around on her body.
Brownstoner: What does the Kentile Floors sign mean to you?
Emory Campbell: Even before they took it down and it became a fleeting symbol of Brooklyn, it was something I made a point to look up at everyday, with Smith and 9th and the skyline behind it. It was this symbol of how lucky I felt to have a childhood in this place.
I wanted the tattoo even before they took Kentile down, and then after they took it down it felt like my duty. There’s all these people who live in Manhattan and never got to appreciate it and now it’s not even there to appreciate. That made the urge even stronger to have it on me.
I’m excited to have it years from now, when it’s a distant memory. I feel lucky to preserve the story of what Brooklyn was.
What reactions have you gotten to the tattoo? Have any strangers recognized it and commented?
It’s funny, not as many as I wanted. Only special people know what it was, because it was part of their lives too. I’m always holding my arm up on the subway hoping somebody on the train looks up and the tattoo aligns with where it used to be when we pass that spot.
Do you still love the skyline, even now that Kentile is gone?
I do! It was definitely a little bit sad at first, but I’ve noticed more things in the skyline now that it’s gone. When it was up I exclusively watched Kentile, cause I thought it was so striking. But now I look the other way sometimes, at the Statue of Liberty and other little things. Before I really only ever saw the sign. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in Gowanus itself, so it was exclusively something I passed on the F train going into the city.
Where did you get the tattoo?
Hand of Glory Tattoo in Park Slope.
Had they ever done a Kentile on anyone before? Or a Brooklyn-based tattoo?
The guy who did it had worked in Long Island for a long time and had just switched to this tattoo place, and I was like hey, welcome to Brooklyn. He said he appreciated doing it because it was more unique than a Brooklyn Bridge or something like that.
Do you think you’ll get any more Brooklyn ink?
I don’t know. It’s funny, I have one other tattoo right now. I don’t have any in mind, I can’t think of anything as specific and poignant but I’m not opposed to the idea.
Why your arm, or did you just like that spot?
It’s a good spot. It’s on my bicep, which is a spot of strength. It represents the strength growing up in Brooklyn has given me.