Sometimes, our parents’ cool aura is able to shine through their example, and their swagger is easily apparent to us. But more often than not, we just know them as our humble, down-to-earth, adoring parents — and we had absolutely no idea what crazy skeletons they had in their closets from their past.
Thanks to the wonders of photography, our parents’ wild side has been preserved for posterity. These Reddit users took to the Internet with jaw-dropping examples of the unbelievable hijinks they discovered their parents were up to long before they ever were addressed as mom and dad.
1. Skater Girl
You probably thought you were super hip and trendy as you whizzed through your childhood neighborhood on your skateboard. But that’s just one of the problems of being a child of cool parents: chances are, they did it first — and they probably looked way more natural as they cruised along.
In this retro picture, this future mom is seen letting her long and lovely locks flow as she rolls on down the block in the most care free way she knows how. No protective gear, not even a helmet, just pure bravado. To top it all off, look how comfortable she was going around town barefoot.
2. She Can Do It
When the movie Flashdance came out in 1983, it was considered a big deal that the film portrayed a woman working as a welder. But anyone who reacted with such surprise to the film didn’t realize that almost half a century earlier, this future grandmother, as a young woman, was making some bold career choices.
For all the horrors that World War II brought the planet, for women in the United States and many other countries it afforded the opportunity to gain jobs in manufacturing and creating weaponry in a way never previously seen. This woman is seen doing a job that had once been forbidden to women, and it seems she truly enjoyed it.
3. Keeping Cool Amid The Heat
Remember those old family portraits that sat on your mantelpiece in your childhood home? Chances are, it’s safe to say they weren’t anywhere near as epic as this one. As far as cool parents go, this bold dad has got just anybody beat — at least on camera. Talk about an epic backdrop.
The original social media user who posted of this awesome picture says that their dad was a firefighter back in the day. Don’t worry about what’s going on behind him and his friend, though: this is merely a controlled blaze, so he’s not slacking off in any way. Instead, he’s just enjoying a cool drink of Gatorade, knowing he’s done his job properly.
4. Diving Dad
This throwback photo features this future father flaunting some gear that is seriously out of this world. Shining brightly in the desert sun, he’s photographed donning a silver diving suit from back in the day. Reddit user ‘urs1ne’ explained that this photo depicts their father, after he’d returned from a diving trip in the Red Sea.
Long before the days of fatherhood, he was an American military contractor assigned to Saudi Arabia in the 1970s, and everything about his hairstyle gives the time period away. Naturally, he had to take advantage of his surroundings and explore the tropical coral reefs lining the coast. Dive on intrepid papa, dive on.
5. An Epic Leap
Sure, having parents that enjoyed playing sports both in their youth and with their young children is not uncommon. But it’s far rarer to find an epic photo like this and proudly point out that, yep, that’s your dad, flying effortlessly through the air like Rocky the Squirrel.
Never mind the chilly air and frozen snow surrounding him; this cool parent was apparently all too confident that he was made of far tougher stuff. Uploaded to Reddit, the child of this shirtless skier said his dad would go on to father four boys, and was a living legend in his time. This photo was taken during the time he worked as a ski instructor.
6. A Mother And Her Cub
Move aside, Tippi Hedren. There’s another mom out there who’s just wild about lions. The Reddit user who posted this picture said it shows his grandmother alongside his father as a young boy. The reason for having such an outlandish pet actually makes more sense once it’s put in context.
Apparently, Grandma was a skilled veterinarian, and around the time of this photo in 1959, took on a new and exciting responsibility: taking care of this lion cub. Although the little tyke was an addition to this proud family for just a few years, it must have been the thrill of a lifetime for this young boy.
7. Commander Mom
When you’re out in the field in uniform in the thick of duty, chances are, you’re not looking your best. It’s highly likely that you’re exhausted, running on very little fuel, hot, and flecked with dirt. So when you manage to look both camera-ready and badass while expertly performing your job in the military, you must be some sort of superhero.
In this photo, we see the mother of Reddit member ‘danabre’ serving as a tank instructor in the Israeli military in 1984. If she was able to not only accurately maneuver this tank during her mandatory service, but also knew how to train others to manage it properly, then imagine her attention to detail around the house with her kids!
8. A Different Kind Of Playground
Sure, your parent in their youth was probably up to all kinds of hijinks and water sports. We’ve all seen those old photos of Mom or Dad waterskiing and waving to the camera. But even if they had their own nifty little motorboat, chances are their aquatic playground looked nothing like this.
Living on a nuclear submarine definitely has its drawbacks, from getting cabin fever to having no way to escape from some of the difficult personalities you might get stuck onboard with. But when you’re assigned to such a picturesque vessel, it certainly can have its advantages — the father of the Reddit user who posed this photo used the submarine as a diving platform!
9. Military Cool
When we were little kids, our first heroes before anyone else were, more often than not, our own super cool parents. And when you have a father serving in the military, as this boy did, that spiffy official uniform just makes things that much more inspiring for his young eyes.
Reddit user ‘DatingPoppy’ recounted how he fondly remembered his dad serving in the United States Air Force. That would have been plenty cool enough, but his dad in particular had the distinguished honor of serving as a fighter pilot. At that point, his son already had his own bomber jacket, looking wide-eyed up at his role model.
10. Mom’s Mission
Nowadays, militaries around the world are taking great strides to include women in more and more roles that were previously considered out of bounds for them. So that’s what makes it so much more inspiring and awesome to find this old picture of an awesome mom flying in the Air Force.
This ridiculously cool mom looks like she would not take any nonsense, and would make her offspring finish their peas before getting up from the family dinner table. After all, back in the 1980s before she became a parent, she was thousands of feet up in the air, flying helicopters for the United States military. She looks like she’d take no prisoners!
How did your parents meet? Were they friends since they were classmates in school? Was it just the right bar at the right time? Or did your dad do something that absolutely swept your mom right off her feet? In the case of this groovy cowboy, it would seem the last scenario was the most likely by far.
Horseback riding is a skill learned with plenty of practice, but being able to hold on to your horse’s reins and remain totally upright as it rears up in the air is just a whole other level of bravado. This is the father of the person who originally posted the picture, and he’s barely even breaking a sweat.
12. I Love Rock And Roll
While there were many women warriors of rock and roll that came before, the 1980s were the watershed period for girl groups wielding guitars. It’s thanks to Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, The Bangles, and The Go-Gos that women could at last see a place for themselves in the musical genre.
Case in point: this rocking lady who took that inspiring message to heart. Mom is seen here wielding her scarlet axe with total confidence, crouching low with it as she rocks out to that sick riff she just laid down. We can only hope that she continued to enjoy this pastime even in motherhood. Must have been awesome growing up being serenaded like this!
13. Defying Gravity
Those flared bell bottoms were all the rage back in the day, then again, the style made pants just so downright heavy. But that fashion choice didn’t seem to hinder this cool parent at all. His child managed to discover this excellently executed pic of Dad back in 1977, showing off some sick moves.
As a father, we can only hope that he encourage his children to wear a helmet. As if doing that jaw-dropping handstand on a skateboard wasn’t rad enough, check out the loud colors on the groovy shirt this guy is wearing. Surely those fashion choices shifted when he became a parent, let’s just hope his impressive skills didn’t.
14. Dad’s Sick Beats
Chances are, if you’re a bona fide music aficionado today, then it’s thanks in big part to your parents’ excellent taste in music growing up. For example, if this dad looked cool even before his children were born, just imagine what swagger he was able to impart on his kids.
Many moons ago, in the days long before music became as accessible as it is this day in age during the technology era, music taste was something shared with neighbors, friends and family. Seen here is the dad of the Reddit poster, back in 1987 at age 22. Let’s hope he knows full well just how epic he looks.
15. Mamma’s Got A Brand New Bag
Whether this vintage car actually belonged to the dashing damsel who’s sprawled herself out on it is yet to be determined, but one thing is for sure: the mother of the poster of this photo on Reddit sure had a strong sense of what it means to exude absolute coolness. Would you have the class to pose properly with such a car?
She’s not too over the top, her outfit is stylish and yet flattering, and she’s managed to make this car look like no one else in the world could own it but her. With that swooping sheen of her hair and that devil-may-care expression, one thing’s for certain: she’s not like other moms, she’s a cool mom.
16. Heroic Heredity
Our parents can be experts at hiding mysteries and secrets from us, sometimes for all our lives. Occasionally, they’re even able to hide clandestine siblings from us. Take, for example, this future dad’s first child that he adopted while on a tour of military service during the war in Vietnam.
The Vietnam War defined an entire generation of American parents and children alike, and amidst the hardships of war, some soldiers were able to find reasons to feel joy, like this soldier and his special buddy. But here’s the real question: did Brad Pitt and George Clooney go back in time to father this shirtless soldier?
17. The Karate Dad
Thanks to his legendary role on Walker, Texas Ranger, Chuck Norris has become a legend whose name and reputation form an integral part of today’s cultural lexicon. His absurd feats of strength and stealth are the basis of numerous hyperbolized jokes you’ve likely heard ad nauseam. But with this cool karate-kicking dad, apparently, the iconic martial artist had finally met his match.
It’s quite rare that Chuck Norris would ever tarnish his steely image by showing himself losing a match of strength. But whatever this master street fighter dad must have done to pay off Chuck just to get this shot, his children can forever brandish this incredible gem of a photo in case anyone doubts his abilities.
18. Whiskery Smooches
In some families, as the children grow up, they may be curious to hear about Dad’s previous wife, or the girlfriends he had before he met the right one. Certainly finding a picture of your parent’s past flames will incite a flurry of questions. But what if any old documentation of Dad’s life before his family happens to only depict some horsing around with a pinniped?
Whatever his job may have been when raising his kids, this rad dad had a past career in his youth training seals and sea lions. Apparently he was quite popular among his students, because this one couldn’t resist saying thanks by planting him a great big fishy kiss on his own whiskers!
19. Merrily We Ski Along
Many of us would have a fundamental problem just staying upright on our own two feet while trying to get the hang of waterskiing. But this Reddit user not only managed to find an old photo of their dad and crew cruising along like a pro in their prime, but pulling off this incredible half-pyramid. Just look at that form!
See having a grand old time out on the water with his cousins, balance was a trait that apparently ran in the family. But one final point that’s gnawing at us: has Chris Pratt gone back in time to join this fantastic party of waterskiiers? Check out that guy on the bottom left.
20. National Service With A Smile
There’s something just so approachable about this Reddit user’s great grandmother. She looks like the kind of lady who would gladly bring you a plate of cookies as she sits with you to help you figure out your physics homework. Because of the industry boom set up by World War II, at last she could demonstrate her technical prowess as a welder.
With that dingy, drab work outfit and protective gear, you’d expect this worker to have a weary expression on her face. But she seems bubbling over with sheer pride that she could work in the industry and contribute to something so much larger than herself, while learning important technical skills.
21. Fast Times
We all had that one teacher in high school who was extra quirky and made his or her students feel that much more comfortable learning with them. But imagine flipping back through some old photos and suddenly discovering that in his past life, it was your own dad making waves for some lucky students.
Pictured here in his younger days working as a math teacher in a school in Southern California is one dad who must have made thing colorful growing up. Knowing what sort of messages would resent with his SoCal students, he’s picture hered using his chalkboard to enact riding some gnarly waves for his pupils — who seem quite amused!
22. Board Meeting
There’s pulling into your workplace or school in style, and then there’s this guy. He’s wearing a full suit, collar starched, tie neatly folded, hair carefully parted. So when you have to look dressed up to the nines and make big appearances, how do you still maintain your sense of individuality?
‘Targat2’ noted on Reddit their father is seen here skating while attending Hyde School college prep in 1982. The social media user commented with the simple realization that there’s a fair chance Dad was cooler than they themselves. Hopefully this barefooted bro kept his shoes all nicely polished and safely tucked away inside that briefcase.
23. Shooting For The Stars
His demeanor is calm, his office is sparsely decorated and kept strictly functional, and if anything, he merely appears to be pensive. At first glance, it’s hard to tell just why this dad is one of the coolest parents out there, but the backstory behind this picture is what makes him truly amazing.
Hearing about our parents’ first day at their new job often makes us feel that much more comforted as we grow up and spread our wings in the professional world ourselves. But when there’s photo evidence of your dad’s first day working at none other than NASA, let’s just say the bar would be set sky high!
24. Delivery Boy
It’s a dilemma we still face today: we need tons of beers at the party, as quickly as possible, but we don’t want to squander manpower in order to get them. To make matters worse, there’s no car available. How does one keep their partygoers from getting thirsty? Enter this mythological hero to save the day.
This wild and wacky photo leaves us wondering if this future dad warned his children not to follow his example, but it’s the perfect relic from his younger and more reckless years. What kind of parent shows up to the party on a unicycle, shirtless, sporting two 12 packs of beer on his shoulders? The cool parent, that’s who!
25. It’s A Family Affair
They’ve taken the yarmulkes off for this particular group shot. Reddi user ‘JasonPlatz’ wrote that seen seated in the chair is his father, surrounded by his grandparents and uncle, on the day of the former’s bar mitzvah celebrations. As it would seem, the day he became a man involved some important literature to usher him into the next stage of life.
Before this young soon-to-be man read from the Torah as is Jewish tradition, his adoring family decided he had to do some other required reading. And while Grandma certainly wasn’t partaking in the spectacle, she seemed to be very much loving the moment. Cool parents, indeed!
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