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My Parents Were Awesome
October 5, 2009 5:51 PM   Subscribe

My Parents Were Awesome Before the fanny packs and Andrea Bocelli concerts, your parents (and grandparents) were once free-wheeling, fashion-forward, and super awesome.
posted by xingcat (128 comments total) 143 users marked this as a favorite

 
I probably have no objectivity about this, because I have a real soft spot for people who find their parents totally awesome.
posted by xingcat at 5:52 PM on October 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


This is lovely. I have to see if I can get any of my dad looking like a young John Lennon, or my mother looking like Olivia Hussey, which indeed they did in the day.

I also have a terrifying photo of my ancestor the young Confederate vet in uniform, with a thousand-yard stare that seems to bore right into you, but it's probably not quite the thing.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:56 PM on October 5, 2009


Oh, this is awesome indeed. It's the antithesis to Awkward Family Photos.
posted by seawallrunner at 5:59 PM on October 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


My parents ARE awesome. But they've been awesome for a long, long time. Now I have an urge to go digging in old photo albums and scan them in and post them.
posted by sandraregina at 6:00 PM on October 5, 2009


My parents were awesome (and they are awesome, in a different sort of way). I'll have to dig up an old photo of my parents circa long beautiful hair and embroidered tunics.
posted by muddgirl at 6:00 PM on October 5, 2009


Wow. Very rarely does the horrid internet do something that is both earnest and yet sentimental.

I really, really like this.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 6:01 PM on October 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


Awww, this is sweet. It's like a love letter to your parents.
posted by nikitabot at 6:02 PM on October 5, 2009


Yes, yes, yes!
This makes me happy.
My mom, I swear to God, looked like Nargis. I look forward to proving it.
posted by Methylviolet at 6:04 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Next, look at your own MeFi profile pics, because your children's (and grandchildren's) parents (and grandparents) were once free-wheeling, fashion-forward, and super awesome.
posted by applemeat at 6:04 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm 100% certain my parents were never awesome.
posted by bondcliff at 6:05 PM on October 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I need to pass this on to my friend whose parents were both professional wrestlers.

I mean, my parents were (and still are) awesome, but if it's images you want, his were HELLA AWESOME.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:08 PM on October 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


My dad was in Architecture school in 1960, and I have one of his linoleum prints framed--he freakin' saved several for his kids-to-be. It's a weird clock-faced owl thing, very abstract and, yeah, awesome. And, hell, this is my mom, now.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:11 PM on October 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


Holy shit, MrMoonPie -- I can't imagine how she could have been any awesomer decades ago, and yet, she may have been.

This post is what the fellow meant when he said "best of the web." It's almost enough to make me sort of wish momentarily that I had possibly procreated, maybe.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:14 PM on October 5, 2009


My parents never were awesome and that Italian NPR concert dude is the WOOOORST but. Why why why can't men have some kind of portable, non-huge storage that is safe for electronics (i.e. not pockets) but isn't dorky? Just one? It doesn't have to be fanny packs or pocket protectors, but it has to be *something*.
posted by DU at 6:14 PM on October 5, 2009


One of the reasons I watch Mad Men so avidly is that Don Draper reminds me so much of my father, including the weird family history and too much smoking while wearing really excellent cufflinks.

(Luckily, he came without the all the womanizing-- at least while married to my mother.)
posted by ltracey at 6:14 PM on October 5, 2009


Oh, man. My dad used to have a mid-'70s era photo of himself and one of his buddies drinking beer (stubbies, in those styrofoam holders) and standing in front of one of those '70s vans with the round window on the side and an airbrushed painting of a Conan-style dude fighting a snake with a girl in chains writhing in the background. It was a million times cooler than I'll ever be, I've based my life on its teachings, and when it went missing I lost the best part of my inheritance.

Did I mention they both had white guy 'fros and horrendously tasteless t-shirts on?
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:17 PM on October 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


I absolutely have to find a picture of my dad back in 71. He was this little tough guy with huge mutton chops who played college rugby. The picture is of him getting up after a scrum with a huge gash on his face and he just looks like he's ready to dominate.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 6:22 PM on October 5, 2009


The kids at school
Have parents that seem so cool.
posted by Tube at 6:22 PM on October 5, 2009


My mother once lassoed a live turkey at her company's Christmas party, won a frozen turkey for her effort (the live one was sent back to live on a nice farm, she said -- shhhhhh!) and got photographed in her totally awesome and glamorous cowgirl outfit alongside the bemused turkey for the company newsletter. I truly have to dig that up and scan it.

If anyone thinks that my Mum wasn't awesome in her dudette outfit, I will totally kick your ass.
posted by maudlin at 6:22 PM on October 5, 2009


This is made of win.

I wonder if the parents are okay with it, though - presumably most are still alive, given the decades I'm seeing represented most.
posted by po at 6:24 PM on October 5, 2009


Somewhere I've got a picture of my dad in the early seventies sporting a fro, huge mustache and wearing a bright orange dashiki. The amazing thing is that he wasn't even very hip; he was kind of an Archie Bunkerish truck mechanic but everyone looked like that then.
posted by octothorpe at 6:28 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


My most favorited post is also about my mom, and she's ridden a motorcycle and been to China (and Egypt, duh) in the last few years and will be 68 next month and got her PhD at 52 and is running for the NC legislature next year so I can't tell you all the stories and, you know, it's not all positive but, yeah, she's awesome. And my dad, while awesome in his time, worked too much and smoked too much and didn't exercise enough and died at 62, which wasn't awesome.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:28 PM on October 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


This one with the turtle is great.
posted by box at 6:31 PM on October 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


And did somebody mention custom vans?
posted by box at 6:35 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


AAAAND they had to trade in their Renault when I was born--in Kansas, in 1966.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:43 PM on October 5, 2009


This is a great site.

Also, my parents were awesome.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:50 PM on October 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


One of the reasons I watch Mad Men so avidly is that Don Draper reminds me so much of my father, including the weird family history and too much smoking while wearing really excellent cufflinks.

Bizarro Mad Men, wherein Pete hooks up with Betty (eek!).
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:51 PM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I really enjoyed this. Thank you.
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:56 PM on October 5, 2009


I sent in a picture of my parents that my sister had posted on her blog (it's the middle photo) - my dad looks pretty groovy. They haven't posted it up on the site though.
posted by divabat at 6:58 PM on October 5, 2009


Thanks, this made my day.
posted by Marnie at 7:00 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've got to start having more pictures taken of me being awesome so that I can be on this site 30 years from now.
posted by CaseyB at 7:02 PM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]



I don't have any pics handy beside the one of their marriage, but my parents were totally awesome.

.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:04 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


wedding, rather. You know what I mean.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:04 PM on October 5, 2009


My mom was awesome.
posted by kenko at 7:11 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are some remarkably good photographs on that site. Or maybe that hazy 70s film makes them all look so much better.
posted by Grundlebug at 7:13 PM on October 5, 2009


I have to dig up this picture of my dad, where he has this ENORMOUS beard, all Wolfman Jack-style and also he is smoking the biggest joint I have ever seen. It is amazing.
posted by sugarfish at 7:16 PM on October 5, 2009


Incredibly wonderful!

My parents still have all their own photos. It's a bummer I don't have copies - I used to pore over their photo albums taking in this exotic data from a life before I was self-aware. My GI dad on R&R in Hawaii from Viet Nam, long hair, medallions and dogtags, and huge bell bottoms - my mom in hip huggers and hair to her waist, cruising around in a green rented dune buggy...
posted by Miko at 7:18 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a great site, I wish I had a picture of my dad in his Navy duds... he looked great.
posted by patheral at 7:34 PM on October 5, 2009


It's a good thing our parents were so awesome since most people dress just like them!
posted by nosila at 7:37 PM on October 5, 2009


I looked at some of these pictures and thought "Hey, that could be me, I wore those clothes and had a bean bag chair!"

Damn it, I'm old.
posted by marxchivist at 7:41 PM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Apparently I'm not alone: my parents were superhuman demigods in the 70s too - smokin enormous jaybirds and not GAF: booyah. I gotta submit some shit.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:43 PM on October 5, 2009


It's crazy how much better everything looks with the nostalgic look of real film instead of digital. I guess in 30 years our current digital photos will look nostalgic too, ..somehow?
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:46 PM on October 5, 2009


I'm torn between feeling a bit odd that a bunch of those photos are of people my age doing the things I was doing back in 1978, and knowing that if my son put a picture of me up there I'd be overcome with joy.

Also, I think I have some photographs of my mother when she was playing in the viola section of the Birmingham Symphony, though what I'd really like is a picture of her playing with Ivy Benson's All Girl Band, something which she inexplicably used to be a bit embarassed about but which I of course thing was the greatest thing ever.
posted by jokeefe at 7:57 PM on October 5, 2009


This website makes me sad.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:58 PM on October 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


My parents have always been wonderful, but I can say with all honesty that I've grown up observing the becoming awesome.

My dad has always been sort of a badass, in the time that I've known him. Aside from being my dad, which throws all objectivity out the window, he's the most authoritative person in any room, always, not just because he's super-responsible and does his homework on things, but because he has an imposing presence but uses it for good, bellowing out a calm voice of reason and actually paying attention to what people around him need, and what would be best for all involved. My mom has much of the same traits, but in a way that gets more excited and into the latest thing.

In my lifetime, I've watched them go from unthinking (by which I don't mean to stereotype, just that they themselves didn't ever think about it) Republicans to activist liberal Democrats going against the grain of their friends and neighbors in the Red States.

But then I think of images and stories of them from before I was born...

The picture of my mother at 16, beautiful, and with bleached-blonde hair (she called it "frosted") done into the bob she still wears to this day, stepping off of a private jet in Mexico with her slalom waterksi in her hands She had grown up very rich, and was a championship waterskier. She's clearly playing to the camera, acting coy, but her joie de vivre makes her come off like Jakie Kennedy stepping off of Air Force One, years before Jackie was First Lady.

Then there are the wedding photos, where my mom still looks the same, but my dad is clearly the stereotypical nerd. He had damn near gotten expelled from Middle School, but then went on to get accepted to MIT. He couldn't afforc it, so the Dallas Morning News fundraised for a scholarship for him to go to SMU and be their first computer science major. He had the thick, horn-rimmed glasses, and yes, was a bit of a dork.

And yet, thinking about it now, without the childhood constraints of my parents marriage being an inevitability, and with the knowledge of how they met and instantly fell in love (it's a very cute story) I'm kind of amazed. She was beautiful, rich, and radiant. He was a poor kid from the poor part of Dallas only able to go to college because he was a nerd. And boy did he look like it. I discovered a few years ago that she had been engaged twice before, and broken them off. And yet this guy won her heart, and she his.

And then I get the story of their trip to Quebec City. They're rich now, and travel the world together, but at the time, they were struggling, and when they got up to Canada, the only option they had for a hotel room was way more than they could sensibly afford, but they took it because they had no other options. But once they got to their room, they discovered that it had the best view imaginable of the most romantic city they could have hoped for, and the moral to this story, as told by my dad, is that sometimes you've got to remember that money is best spent on memories.

My parents are a beauty and a nerd, who fell in love and have spent their whole lives basking in that love and transferring it onto their four children and damn-near innumerable grandchildren, and who have passed on their lessons of how to live life to the fullest while never forgetting that they have more to learn and live themselves.

Damn straight my parents are awesome. More than anything I'm shaken by how easily their union could have never happened at all.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:01 PM on October 5, 2009 [41 favorites]


your parents (and grandparents) were once free-wheeling, fashion-forward, and super awesome.

OK, story time, because I'm in the mood.

Many years ago, my grandparents (both now deceased) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. My mother is almost exactly, to the day, 20 years older than me.

This 50th anniversary year, I turned 30. And my mother turned 50.

Hmm.

Yes, it took me 30 years to do the math and realize that my mother was born waaaay too close to my grandparents wedding anniversary. Cue the Billy Idol song.

Hey, it was Ireland. Shit happened. And when shit happened, people got married. If you said "morning after treatment," they handed you another Guinness to pour on your pancakes.

"You know, Mom, you were born in November."
"Yeah?"
"And Grandma's anniversary is in August."
"Yeah?"
"Isn't that, you know, kinda cutting it close?"
Silence.
"Listen, don't say anything to your grandmother. She still thinks no one knows."

Of course, I tell my wife.

"Scandal! The slut!" she says, jokingly, in a fake Irish accent. There's a reason I married her.

Cut to the anniversary party. It's wonderful. It's been fifty years, and the fires are still burning bright.

My young cousins perform a series of skits, re-enacting famous family stories from the time my grandparents were much younger. There's my grandfather in the Irish Army, driving a truck through Dublin. There's my grandmother taking care of her zillion little brothers and sisters. The night they met, my grandfather putting the moves on grandma, the hottie Irish lass.

Then my cousins start up with the funny story about the morning after the wedding.

My wife leans over to me and whispers.

"I think they skipped something," she says.

I explode with laughter, and everyone's staring at me.

Told you there was a reason I married her.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:09 PM on October 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


My mother a demon, my father a jackal. Wait, I think I'm in the wrong thread.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:13 PM on October 5, 2009


I have a picture somewhere of my (now deceased) father as a teenager, looking like someone out of Grease, hanging out a second-story window looking tough. Now I have a reason to scan it.
posted by davejay at 8:26 PM on October 5, 2009


This website made me smile--thank you. There are some really great photos in there; I especially like this drinkin', smokin', Natalie-Wood-crossed-with-Audrey-Hepburn bride.

In her spare room, on top of the dresser, my grandmother had photos of all her kids and their spouses in their youth. In my parents' picture, my mother is wearing a skirt SO SHORT it actually made me embarrassed the first time I saw it. She's about 28 or 29 years old, long black hair parted straight down the middle, looking awesome and laughing at the camera as she and my dad sit on the fireplace with their arms around each other. My dad has this grin on his face like, check out this hot chick!

I think the first time I saw that photo was when I sort of got an inkling that maybe my parents had actually been cool at some point in their lives.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:31 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


A lot of them are meh. Hardly awesome or free-wheeling or fashionable. Larry, on the other hand.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:39 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the past, people were probably a lot like you and me.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:40 PM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Roscoe and Lynette were awesome.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:44 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh fuck, now the next time I of home I'm gonna have to find and steal that picture of my Mom in her 20s, before she had me, her hair ironed and pressed and feathered like Cher if Cher survived a tornado made entirely out of hot oil and aqua net.
posted by The Whelk at 8:44 PM on October 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


I of home jeesh. It's like I'm making typos in another language now.
posted by The Whelk at 8:46 PM on October 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


You know, parents get a bad rap. Because the things that make them stereotypically not awesome (job, mortgage, no-traveling-anywhere, tired, in-a-bad-mood) are all because of you.

That's right. They took on all the not-awesome because that's what you have to do sometimes if you want to be able to afford to raise a child in comfort and happiness. You have to shed some awesome.

And that's what makes them awesomer. The irony is, kids won't recognize that awesomerness until they're no longer awesome themselves.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:58 PM on October 5, 2009 [38 favorites]


Sadly my mother was a hamster, and my father smelt of elderberries.
posted by smoke at 9:00 PM on October 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


My father-in-law owned his own sail barge. Beat that.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:25 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


My father was more Elvis than Elvis, including the sneer (which I inherited, if I ever want to try for the female-Elvis-impersonater gig). He started out young Elvis and aged into later Elvis but was still awesome. He started smoking at 12 and spent his Air Force service riding motorcycles around the mountains of Italy.

My mom owned a pair of thigh high lace up fire red gogo boots that I would kill to have a picture of her in. Even dressed primly, though, she always looked like the formidable woman she was, who nonetheless collected friends and admirers everywhere she went. Her first fight with my dad was when she told him she didn't care what his mother did for him, he was going to have to butter his own damn biscuits at breakfast.

My dad died nearly 20 years ago, too young. My mom died in April.

Thanks for the link. I need to scan some photos when I can stand to do so.
posted by emjaybee at 9:30 PM on October 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of the time I found an old picture of my grandmother dressed as a rather fashionable flapper.
posted by deanc at 9:35 PM on October 5, 2009


Oh man, I wish I had some old photos of my parents here! I found the photo album from their honeymoon the last time I was home. They were SO YOUNG! And thin! And silly!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:38 PM on October 5, 2009


I took one look at this
one and thought "Wow! nice....










Willys".
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:58 PM on October 5, 2009


Quick! Somebody get that tumblog a book deal!
posted by shownomercy at 10:11 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


These dudes all look like Mission hipsters.
And all the women are saying how awesome their dads were.

Dr. Freud,

I am 30 year old single straight male living in San Francisco. How can I increase my chances of getting laid?

I am not single, and I do not look at all like my wife's father
posted by dirty lies at 10:30 PM on October 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


My father was in a one-hit-wonder band back in the day. He was on American Bandstand and all that cool stuff. What's even cooler is that the song he wrote has been in several bad ass movies (Kill Bill, Pecker, a Vonage commercial, etc). Yes, my father wrote "Woohoo" and he was the saxophone player for The Rock-A-Teens. Beat that! :)
posted by Eclipsante at 11:17 PM on October 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Dammit, I could win this. My mother was a model and professional party girl — and amateur photographer — in 1950s New York, and I have her portfolio from those years here, because if it's at their house and my Dad comes across it he gets sulky.

Why? It's not the pictures of my 20-year-old Mom sitting on a Greenwich Village stoop in paint-spattered jeans, smoking a butt and holding a little Siamese cat. Not the black-and-white glamour pictures of her taken with an early experimental ring flash, that look so modern they could be from next month's Vogue. Not the October 1955 cover of Modern Photographer, on which she's sitting in a dancer's pose — of course she was a dancer too, studied with Martha Graham and Erick Hawkins — in a black leotard on a red background.

No, it's the pictures she took of a shirtless Sammy Davis Jr., young and beautiful, two-eyed but already broken-nosed, smoking the first cigarette of an early morning at what appears to be a hotel-room coffee table.

And the full-length picture of my 25-year-old Dad, lying naked, wearing his nerdy black-framed glasses, smoking his pipe, reading a book of criticism of Last Year at Marienbad and ignoring Mom's camera — unlike the tabby kitten who sits on his crotch, neatly covering his junk, looking right at us.

Neither of which photos, unfortunately, I'm allowed to publish while Mom and Dad are still around and still, after 45 years, a couple of happy beatniks in love.

Yeah, My Parents Were Are Awesome.
posted by nicwolff at 11:25 PM on October 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


I expect this thread to expedite sales of the "special snowflake" shirt.

One way or another.
posted by 7segment at 11:38 PM on October 5, 2009


So can we post pictures of ourselves right now on Yourparentswereawesome.com?
posted by gottabefunky at 11:42 PM on October 5, 2009


Man, I was about to snark about another one of these thin-film websites - these cutesy URL one-topic gimmick sites. But there are some great pictures here of people in their prime!
posted by molecicco at 12:42 AM on October 6, 2009


My dad is the one who told me about Metafilter. Seriously. There's a picture of my dad and my mom where they literally have the same haircut and jacket (leather w/fringe) and I think basically the same glasses. I ain't seen it in a while, but it left a mark on the brainpan. When I read about how my phenotype is going extinct I think of that picture and quietly weep. You guys did your part, hippie mom and dad.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 12:56 AM on October 6, 2009


My parents were awesome--to people not in the family who only saw the externals.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:46 AM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


What I love about this blog is that the people who sent in the photos love the people in them. And it's really hard not to start loving the people in the photos.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:21 AM on October 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


How about grandparents? I've got, somewhere, a picture of my grandfather and uncle proudly displaying a 6-foot-tall cannabis plant they found growing by the side of the road in Nebraska. Which, I hear, they, uh, incinerated, you know, to keep it away from the kids.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:45 AM on October 6, 2009


Awww. These are great. My parents are awesome too. Really, really buttoned-up and square...but awesome.

(Mom went to college in upstate New York. I asked her if she went to Woodstock, she replied "No, there was a mixer that weekend.")
posted by JoanArkham at 5:47 AM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do wonder, as hinted at in a comment above, what digital photography will do to this sort of nostalgia. Not just photos that don't degrade, but photos that exist in practically limitless quantity. I mean, right now, I couldn't dig up 50 photos of my parents if I tried. And yet, assuming we manage to keep proper backups, our kids will have hundreds, if not thousands, of thoroughly embarrassing photos of us, from our mid-20s onward, at least.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:55 AM on October 6, 2009


I had way more fun looking through those than I expected. There are so many things that Mrs Slack and I do and laugh at that I can't imagine our parents doing even though I'm sure they did.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:26 AM on October 6, 2009


My mother bowled a 300 game when she was 17. When I was 12 I found a newspaper clipping about it in a scrapbook and there she was with her cats-eye glasses, holding up her certificate from the bowling alley and everything. I brought the clipping over to her and she looked at it for a few moments and then just nodded in recognition.

"Yeah," she said, with absolutely no awe or excitement. "I used to go bowling every now and then on dates. One time I bowled nothing but strikes. They gave me a certificate and took my picture, and then they put it in the paper."

"That's awesome! I didn't know you were such a good bowler."

"I'm not. I think I just got lucky that day."

"But geez, Mom, that's like a perfect game. You're not proud of that?"

"I guess I was proud then. I don't go bowling much anymore."

It weirded me out that my mom could've done something so incredibly cool when she was younger, and that she apparently didn't think it was incredibly cool anymore. Who wouldn't be psyched about bowling a perfect game?

I was on a severe rummaging-thru-the-attic-for-photo-albums kick at the time, so a few days later I found a picture of my dad from the late 60s, all dressed up in his college age duds and rockin' that fringe jacket like nobody's business. In the picture he is walking through a doorway carrying a duffel bag. Judging from the writing on the back it was a picture commemorating his new apartment, he'd obviously sent it to a girlfriend named Cherie and she'd obviously sent it back when they broke up.

I learned a few things from that picture: One, my dad was an endearingly doofy romantic in his youth ("Please note," he advises in the caption, "that while I am walking away from the camera in this picture, my back is not turned to you, dear!") Two, that my dad married that girl a few years before he married my mother. I only learned that after I innocently brought the picture out to ask Mom who this Cherie girl was.

Mom's reaction to the picture was about as blasé as her reaction to the perfect game, though she gave me more details: "Oh, yeah. He dated her before he met me. They went out one weekend and got married on a whim. Then they realized what a mistake they made and had it annulled the next week. He doesn't talk about it anymore. And you know that song that goes Sherry baby, won't you come out tonight? He'll switch stations when it comes on the radio."

It had never occurred to me that my parents lived lives before us kids came along that they never even talked about. Some parts of their lives just aren't a part anymore, and the excitement of the memory fades over time. Other parts they have chosen to cut out. I've never asked Dad about Cherie, but I did find a paperback (an Ogden Nash collection) that had both their names on the inside cover, both using our family surname. They must have written it to try it out, to see how it looked.

Still, I can't figure out which revelation was the weirder to me: That my father had married briefly before marrying my Mom, or that my Mom had once bowled a 300 game.
posted by Spatch at 6:32 AM on October 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years.” -- Mark Twain

It's like "The Greatest Generation" all over again, except the Internet Generation didn't wait until their parents were dropping dead to realize that they had been young people once, too.
posted by briank at 6:34 AM on October 6, 2009


My girlfriend's mom was a stone cold fox back in the day. Which isn't all that surprising, given my girlfriend's looks, but still.
posted by you just lost the game at 6:42 AM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I blogged my parents' whole photo album-- all the pictures of them being young, hip, and crazy in the 40s and 50s, just like we were young, hip, and crazy in the 70s and 80s and now my kids, presumably are young, hip and crazy. I highly recommend doing this-- don't just post random pictures for strangers, put up the pictures and all the stories that go with them, and make sure your family knows it's there. (gratuitous self promotion. MeMail if you want the link).
posted by nax at 6:50 AM on October 6, 2009


This is an amazing photo.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:51 AM on October 6, 2009


Ian's parents apparently worked at Sterling-Cooper.
posted by The Whelk at 7:09 AM on October 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh man, my parents were and are totally awesome.

They met in Morocco on an archaeological dig in the '70s -- my dad was working on his PhD in archaeology and my mom was in architectural school, doing drawings of the excavation. They've since traveled all over Europe, rented an apartment from an apparent cult in DC in the early '80s, and lived all over the country (including in a cabin in the woods in Wisconsin).

Now, probably a couple of weekends every month, they're Victorian reenactors.

I need to dig up the awesome picture of my father wearing his turtleneck/beret/tweed-jacket-with-elbow-patches combo standing holding a shovel smoking a pipe. With an awesome moustache. It's pretty great.

Still, I can't figure out which revelation was the weirder to me: That my father had married briefly before marrying my Mom, or that my Mom had once bowled a 300 game.

Yeah, I had a kind of weird experience like this when I was 16 or 17. It turned out that both my parents had been married before they met each other -- my mom had been married for a year or two and my dad had been married for 5 or 6. It was just sort of surreal... not really because it's weird to think of my parents with other people (which I guess it is), but because they had literally never talked about it before. They still don't really like to. But they're probably the happiest couple I've ever seen.
posted by malthas at 7:09 AM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


My parents were far from awesome. But I'm making up for it.
posted by stormpooper at 7:44 AM on October 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Reminds me a lot of the "Damn right your dad drank it" series of Canadian Club ads
posted by mrbill at 7:44 AM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This, my friends, is all you need.
Damn, now I miss my grandparents horribly.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:47 AM on October 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


See? When we oldsters tell you youngsters that, once you have kids, your lives will never be the same...we aren't bullshitting you. See what you little farts did to us?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:06 AM on October 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Dharma and Greg is pretty much the story of my life and my mom is like Abby & Larry rolled into one, with slightly less paranoia about the government. So yeah, at least some of my parents are way awesome. (I've got five parents. They range in awesomeness. My mom is by far the most awesome.)

I'm going to have to find the picture of my mom standing next to a giant chicken statue to scan in and send. Also: The picture of me and my dad where he's wearing a white suit straight out of Miami Vice or something. The site may be heavily weighted to the 60s, but the 80s were not without their fashion moments.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:11 AM on October 6, 2009


For whatever reason, this photograph pinged against the part of my brain where Shirley Jackson's short story "The Intoxicated" lives. Perhaps it's just the kitchen backdrop, but she seemed like an Eileen to me.
posted by redsparkler at 8:18 AM on October 6, 2009


Joey Harrison's Mom and Dad make for 360 degrees of awesome
posted by bendybendy at 8:27 AM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


This thread is also awesome.
posted by grubi at 9:07 AM on October 6, 2009


My ugly father worked in a steel mill, and my plain mother was a waitress.

OK not really, but bragging about our parents advantages isn't that much different than bragging about our own. Its just in bad form. Lets have some respect for all kinds of parents. Blah blah blah rich famous beautiful Harvard genius doesn't really do a whole lot.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 9:13 AM on October 6, 2009


My parents were, and still are, awesome!
posted by Lynsey at 9:19 AM on October 6, 2009


My father dropped out of community college to work as a hardware technician in the Silicon Valley. My mum came from a military family with 3 siblings and 3 half-siblings, did clerical work and raised two kids. Doesn't mean they weren't ridiculously awesome. There's a lot more to any person than their job, and I bet that's true of your parents as well.
posted by muddgirl at 9:20 AM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


bragging about our parents advantages

Was anyone doing that? Did you look at the blog? Do you really see everyone depicted as advantaged? Where is this idea of "rich famous beautiful Harvard genius" come from?

I look at the blog see a legitimate cross-section of society, and not even a statement that everyone in the pictures has to be physically attractive. The revelation is in seeing one's parents as young, perhaps single, perhaps childless, sporting some variation of the look of their time - a view of our parents that, much as we know it exists, we were not privileged to be around to see with adult eyes. The images invite reflection on the passage of time and the qualities of youth, and remind us that, for the most part, even the 'ugly mill workers' and the 'plain waitresses' also took part in that phase of life that involves finding a self-expression, creating an independent identity, and falling in love.

You have to work really hard to hate on this blog.
posted by Miko at 9:22 AM on October 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Miko - I think he was hating on some of the commenters here, some of which did come off as rather privileged.
posted by muddgirl at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2009


muddgirl reminds me that I meant to add: at the time of the pictures I would definitely choose to post, my mom was an Army brat and a waitress and then a stay-at-home mother of toddlers, and my dad a soldier and then an electronics technician. The awesomeness comes from the youth and humanness in the photos - not some superficial status markers.
posted by Miko at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2009


OK not really, but bragging about our parents advantages isn't that much different than bragging about our own.
That's not the vibe I'm getting from most of the pictures and commenters... it's more along the lines of, "my parents were normal people but, in their own way, were pretty cool back in their younger days." It's that the ugly father who worked in a steel mill used to be a young, handsome single guy with a cool car who was charming enough to marry the nice cheerleader who now works as a waitress. Even my above-mentioned flapper grandmother was a young immigrant who grew up in a tenement in Manhattan's Lower East Side and then Brooklyn before being orphaned. Doesn't mean she wasn't pretty awesome and hip, even!

And here's the thing: even if your parents were rich or jet-setting travelers, by the time you knew them, they were a married couple worried about the mortgage who spent the weekends making sure that the lawn was mowed and that the roof wasn't leaking. So if you later get a window into the time your parents were privileged people without a lot of difficult cares, then that's a pretty cool thing to look back on as well.
I think he was hating on some of the commenters here, some of which did come off as rather privileged.
So what if they were privileged? Part of the point of these stories is that they give us a window into interesting lives of people -- our parents -- that is in a certain way really at odds with the way we see them now.
posted by deanc at 9:32 AM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


No need to argue with me, deanc. I appreciate the stories. But I can see how someone from a blue collar background can read something like, "My parents met while working on a PhD, then traveled around Europe a whole bunch, and slummed it with some cult members" without feeling like a requirement for awesomeness is the money to do zany things, or at least a safety net to fall back on if an adventure doesn't turn out as planned.
posted by muddgirl at 9:52 AM on October 6, 2009


The "without" seems misplaced.
posted by muddgirl at 9:52 AM on October 6, 2009


Miko, I have thought it frequently but never said it out loud: you are AWESOME. /derail

I love this thread. It comes at a delicate time as the 1 year anniversary of my Dad's death was Sunday. Mom's been gone since 2000. I'm at that point in the grief zone where the memories finally start to turn warm & make me smile. And yeah, they were awesome, wonderful people.

Thanks for posting this, xingcat.
posted by yoga at 9:55 AM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's a photo of my maternal grandfather that I really like, taken in 1977 while holding me (I was a year old). The old Chevy truck behind us was still in use up until a month or two after that photo, when it was crushed by a wrecking ball not long after my grandfather had exited it. (He had been in the Navy, posted in Alaska; later became a construction foreman and specialized in concrete. He worked on Eugene's Autzen Stadium among other things, and loved telling stories about how he'd run up and down the stadium stairs quicker than college football players.) Not long after that near miss, he was hit by someone running a red light, broke his neck and became quadriplegic. I was the only grandchild he was able to pick up and hold in his arms, and that's the last photo we have of him standing. (He went on to live another 30 years.)
posted by fraula at 10:09 AM on October 6, 2009


Some people have PhD's - should their children not be proud of them? That's the way the world works and there's nothing short of Harrison Bergeron that can be done about it. I've not seen any indication in this thread that a requirement for awesomeness was anything other than being awesome, and awesome is not reliant (positively or negatively!) on privilege or education or money.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:11 AM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can see how someone from a blue collar background can read something like, "My parents met while working on a PhD, then traveled around Europe a whole bunch, and slummed it with some cult members" without feeling like a requirement for awesomeness is the money to do zany things

I'm not picking a fight, but the implication here seems to be that being blue collar means that you can't be young and zany/cool/interesting/charming/fashionable. There are plenty of people whose parents were both privileged and boring that we're not hearing about, simply because they were boring.
posted by deanc at 10:15 AM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


It wasn't so much what they were doing. People with or without means can do lots of things, it was the ancillary information.

My PhD student parents met in Guatemala on a plane trip to the jungle. They went on to amazing success in widget sales.

My Rich Yale PhD father met my supermodel Tufts PhD mother on a private jet flight to the most exclusive resort in the Guatemalan jungle. They both went on to become the most powerful widget manufacturing people in the world due to the merger of their families companies.

The details of the heart that matter to this kind of thing really don't have much to do with status. My examples suck, but you get the idea.

I did love the pictures, and hated to see this thread derail into a brag-fest. Tell us about the human side of your parents, not extrinsic things that convey status.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 10:15 AM on October 6, 2009


but the implication here seems to be that being blue collar means that you can't be young and zany/cool/interesting/charming/fashionable. There are plenty of people whose parents were both privileged and boring that we're not hearing about, simply because they were boring.

You are reading me completely backwards. I am saying that perhaps other comments are giving the impression you describe. My parents were about as blue-collar as you could get, then middle-class, and now poor again. Like Anti- says - their awesomeness is intrinsic - because they are my parents and raised me, and when I look back I see that they had hobbies and interests and wore silly shorts - and has nothing to do with possessions. The pictures in the OP tell the same sort of story - we see people primarily framed in their relationship to others, not their relationship to houses or degrees or travel experiences.
posted by muddgirl at 10:32 AM on October 6, 2009


Tell us about the human side of your parents, not extrinsic things that convey status.

There are a billion brilliant novels you can read to acquaint yourself with the inner lives of strangers, antidis.

I think all these "extrinsic" details you don't like are an essential part of finally seeing our own parents from the outside for the first time.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:34 AM on October 6, 2009


Makes me think about my own photos and how someday my kids are going to look at them and be amazed that I was ever that young. *sigh*
posted by Never teh Bride at 11:34 AM on October 6, 2009


I need to find a photo of me and post it. Imagine it's 1972, a baby girl sitting on a glass coffee table in just a diaper with a Miss America sash holding a Schlitz can.

See? Parents weren't awesome (screams safety issues) but I was and still am. Miss America sash was the catalyst for awesomeness.

I still want to submit that photo to Schlitz saying "Proud drinker since 1972" *



*even though I HATE beer and my luck I would win a lifetime supply of that crap/ :)
posted by stormpooper at 11:35 AM on October 6, 2009


My dad used to own a Plymouth Valiant. By the time I was old enough to know anything about cars, it was already about 20 years old. Of course, that's the wonderful thing about Valiants… their slant-six engine was virtually indestructible. I think he had something like 300,000 miles on it before it went to the parking garage in the sky.

Anyway, the thing I remember was, as a kid I used to give him the hardest time about it. I used to make fun of how "old fashoined" it was, because I didn't know shit about shit. I mean, look at that instrument cluster for God's sake. I was fucking idiot to mock that car. And eventually, some time around 1985, he finally got tired of the chiding from me and my mother and got a new car.

And my dad, what a champ. He didn't bother trying to defend the car, didn't waste his breath arguing about how over-engineered it was or how it was already paid for… none of that. Nothing but quiet humility. Probably because he figured I would realize twenty or thirty years later what a complete fucking idiot I was all by myself. So thanks for the education, dad, and I wish I had kept my damned ignorant mouth shut.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:38 AM on October 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


It was nice seeing photos like these presented sans snark. I can only hope my kids think of me this way in the future.
posted by tommasz at 11:47 AM on October 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jody Tresidder: Great! Thanks for the inside scoop on these "novels." I've never seen one and think you might be on to something. Do they have one about the people in these pictures? The parents of the people on MeFi?
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 12:13 PM on October 6, 2009


I'm sorry if people have interpreted my brief anecdote about my parents being in postgraduate school and traveling as bragging and classist. I certainly didn't intend it to be, and again I apologize if I've somehow offended anyone. I was just trying to give some context to what was happening in their lives.

When I think of the time they've spent together in my head I'm not thinking "oh wow its so cool to be privileged and rich and do whatever you want". I'm thinking of the pictures of them goofing off and the details of the stories they've told about being crazy in love with each other. About how even through times when they've had a lot and times when they've had very little, they've had each other. And that's why I think they're awesome. I guess I didn't convey that very well.
posted by malthas at 12:16 PM on October 6, 2009


when I look back I see that they had hobbies and interests and wore silly shorts

Excuse me, but my parents were never privileged enough to have hobbies outside of the 14 hours days they had to spend working at the salt mines or to wear anything but the most mundane of rags for clothing.

hey, that kind of self-righteousness feels pretty good. Thanks for introducing me to a whole new world, antidis!

If this level of awesomeness sets off antidis:
I need to dig up the awesome picture of my father wearing his turtleneck/beret/tweed-jacket-with-elbow-patches combo standing holding a shovel smoking a pipe. With an awesome moustache. It's pretty great.
then it's a sign that he has lived a sad, sad life pissed off at everyone else.
posted by deanc at 12:35 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Hammond Rye at 12:48 PM on October 6, 2009


Malthas: I personally wasn't singling anyone out, it just seemed we might have collectively been going the direction of one-upmanship. Your comment seemed to be very warm and heartfelt to me.

I'm not anyone that counts on any level, so feel free to disregard anything I say if it doesn't ring true.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 1:17 PM on October 6, 2009


then it's a sign that he has lived a sad, sad life pissed off at everyone else.

Judging from that line, you might want to invest in a mirror.

My life is grand, no ill will toward anyone. I have lived with privilege and without so don't dislike anyone for those reasons alone.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 1:25 PM on October 6, 2009


Modern-day hipsters are the My Parents Were Awesome of the future.
posted by naju at 1:32 PM on October 6, 2009


Also, I think I saw this girl in an American Apparel ad once.
posted by naju at 1:45 PM on October 6, 2009


I don't get it. But I guess I'm not a photo guy. I need some words to go along with the pictures.

My parents can be occasionally awesome, but not because they looked attractive or "cool" once upon a time. I don't hate the site or anything. I just don't get it.

(The stories in this thread are great, though. Thanks for sharing.)

(Luckily, he came without the all the womanizing-- at least while married to my mother.)

If he was good at it, you would never know.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:51 PM on October 6, 2009


My parents were geeks, and that is awesome.
posted by Foosnark at 2:04 PM on October 6, 2009


It's crazy how much better everything looks with the nostalgic look of real film instead of digital.

This is one of the things that fuels my love of using disposable cameras for things. I got a few pics from my last birthday that reminded me of those you might find of your parents from the 70s.
posted by flaterik at 3:56 PM on October 6, 2009


These two belong, I think
posted by IndigoJones at 5:14 PM on October 6, 2009


Was anyone doing that? Did you look at the blog? Do you really see everyone depicted as advantaged? Where is this idea of "rich famous beautiful Harvard genius" come from?

I worry, perhaps incorrectly, that he's referring to my first comment above.

This is the truth about my parents, little things that I've only learned to appreciate as an adult. As a kid, and god knows as a teenager, I never viewed my parents in this way. That's the only point I was trying to make.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:33 PM on October 6, 2009


I don't see anything altruistic in self-censorship like Antidis- is suggesting should be practiced. On the contrary, it comes across as unintentionally condescending. So I say include whatever details of the awesome that you like! Be free!
posted by molecicco at 5:17 AM on October 7, 2009


Once upon a time, my mom may have been awesome. She went to modeling school, and did modeling, in NYC. She was a beauty, and extremely fabulous singer. Then the silly bitch went back to the boondocks because she'd met my dad shortly before leaving for NYC. So she was miserable and made sure my dad was, too, and in turn, me. Thinking about it, I realize I've never seen photos of her from that time. Pity.

Dad was awesome. Pity he ended up with a thoughtless bitch for a wife. He was bedazzled by the fancy hot chick from the right part of town. A better woman would have made him rich, encouraging his strengths, rather than making him conform to her own stupid notions.

Love the photos, love the stories in the thread.
posted by Goofyy at 11:53 PM on October 7, 2009


> These two belong, I think.

Oh, great picture, Indigo Rain! It's a good idea in theory...although as the caption writer points out, why would you suspend a baby between you while you're on ice skates?? Unless your parents are really talented skaters, there's about a 75% chance of babysquishing, I think.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:52 PM on October 8, 2009


Actually, Goofyy -- I hear ya. That's why I love this.

Not because people's parents were and continue to be awesome -- let alone that, duh, young people are better looking than old people -- but because our parents aren't necessarily awesome now. They might be deeply unpleasant, wretched people, and whatever they did or didn't do may still cast a shadow over our lives -- but they weren't always that. Once they were young and happy and hopeful. They didn't know what they would become.

My mom was a really unhappy person by the time I knew her. But I see old pictures of her, and think that inside the person I knew, my mother, was this beautiful young woman standing barefoot on the beach with her dark hair blowing around, looking at the camera with this happy, open expression... One kind of pernicious thing about computer role-playing games is you find yourself wanting to reload from an earlier saved game in real life.

You'd think it would be, but this is not depressing.
posted by Methylviolet at 4:23 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Reading this thread has made me realize that my parents are pretty gosh-darn awesome.

Didn't really think so before.

Thanks, everybody!
posted by yohko at 6:46 PM on October 9, 2009


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