The grandfather's mugshot was pulled from the Corbis archives and placed on an edition of S.E. Hinton's classic

By Alex Heigl
January 23, 2016 08:35 AM
Bettmann/CORBIS

It’s not every day you find out your grandfather’s hoodlum past made him the poster child for a literary classic.

Reddit user jimmydadean posted a picture of his grandfather, Willie Grandon, circa 1949. Grandon was photographed with Oscar Walls; the pair posed dramatically after their arrest in Kansas for a spree of robberies. Grandon was just 16 years old; Walls was 17.

Jimmydadean posted some proof of his identity, and along with it an update on his grandfather’s life after the photo:

“When my grandfather was young he was a bit of a scoundrel. His home life was, I can only assume, terrible, as he refused to talk about it. He ran away, joined a circus, [then] a gang of youths, and was eventually arrested. He never really talked about this part of his life and he certainly wasn’t proud of it.

“The judge, instead of prison, sentenced him to the equivalent of community service as a baker’s apprentice (so the story goes). He has always been incredibly grateful for the opportunity to turn his life around thanks to that judge, and he did just that.

“He would go on to work for Boeing, join the Army, and continue baking, all while raising a family.”

But there’s one more twist to Grandon’s story: His picture wound up in photo agency Corbis’s database, and was eventually used as the cover for an edition of S.E. Hinton’s classic tale of youth gone wild, The Outsiders.

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The original Redditor had no idea that his grandfather had achieved a different kind of immortality thanks to his criminal past, and only found out about it when he submitted the Corbis pic to the subreddit r/OldSchoolCool, dedicated to vintage photographs of people from a bygone era.

Just goes to show, you’ll never know where that photo of your wild night – or nights – is going to end up.

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