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CORBIS (MALONE). ALAMY (MR. MCFEELY, CLIFF CLAVIN)
CORBIS (MALONE). ALAMY (MR. MCFEELY, CLIFF CLAVIN)

12 Postal Service Pop Culture All-Stars

CORBIS (MALONE). ALAMY (MR. MCFEELY, CLIFF CLAVIN)
CORBIS (MALONE). ALAMY (MR. MCFEELY, CLIFF CLAVIN)

They might not have handled real mail, but they still delivered.

1. MR. MCFEELY // MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD

Named after Fred Rogers’s grandfather (Fred Brooks McFeely), the legendary postman was involved from the first to the last episode (383 appearances, total), with a catchphrase epitomizing an ideal all postal workers can appreciate: “Speedy delivery!”

2. KARL MALONE // UTAH JAZZ

Two-time NBA MVP Malone earned his nickname “The Mailman” for consistently delivering on the court. The power forward still holds the record for most starts in the NBA (1471), helped bring home two Olympic gold medals, and scored the second-most points in NBA history.

3. MR. ZIP // USPS

Getty

Mr. ZIP was introduced in 1963 to help raise awareness when the USPS adopted ZIP codes, but he also gigged as the postal service’s bearer of bad news, showing up on promotional material about increased postage rates. But who could shoot a messenger with a smile like that?

4. REBA THE MAIL LADY // PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE

Delivering the mail to Pee-wee’s Playhouse could not have been easy. Talking chairs. A disembodied genie’s head. Secret words. But Reba, played by S. Epatha Merkerson—who would go on to win Emmys, Golden Globes, and SAG awards—was up to the task. A saint, really.

5. CLIFF CLAVIN // CHEERS

Actor John Ratzenberger received angry letters from real postmen, because he wore his mail keys to the bar (a cardinal USPS sin). But Cliff was the bad boy of postal carriers, a one-man cliché-defying machine. Then again, the character was originally supposed to be a security guard.

6. PAPERBOY // PAPERBOY

The titular character of Atari’s classic 1984 arcade game had to dodge tornadoes, break dancers, bees, supersized cats, storm drains, and the Grim Reaper. And for what? Kid didn’t even get a government pension. He may not technically be a postal worker, but he’s still one of the greats.

7. NEWMAN // SEINFELD

Postal service faux pas: Blackmailing people by withholding their mail; calling in sick on account of rain; paying someone to work his route. Newman knew how to make the most of his profession even if he wasn't always a stellar employee. In one episode, he describes being a mailman as such: “When you control the mail, you control...information.”

8. AGENT K // MEN IN BLACK II

Tommy Lee Jones’ character in MIIB briefly joins the postal service after retiring from life as a secret agent, and then comes out of retirement after Will Smith's Agent J convinces him that his USPS co-workers are, in fact, aliens. Who said the shipping business was boring?

9. THE POSTMAN // THE POSTMAN

The titular character—played by Kevin Costner—has the unenviable task of attempting to deliver the mail in a post-apocalyptic world. Among other issues, there are a lot fewer curbside mailboxes.

10. CHARLIE UTTER // DEADWOOD

His vocation didn’t really factor into the plot of Deadwood, but this member of Wild Bill Hickok’s entourage—based on a real historical figure—was, indeed, a postman.

11. POSTMAN PAT // POSTMAN PAT

Postman Pat is the star of the stop-motion TV show, which has aired in more than 20 countries. A British icon, Pat is affable and assiduous, and never without his red post van or his black-and-white cat Jess.

12. HERMAN POST // GARFIELD

This long-suffering mailman is often tormented by the fat cat (who regularly ripped off his pants). Occasionally, Post succeeds in delivering Jon’s mail by resorting to unconventional tactics (like wearing a suit of armor, or folding up the mail into paper airplanes). 


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Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images
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Pop Culture
The Cult of Prince Philip
Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images
Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images

For seven decades, Prince Philip has been one of the more colorful figures in Britain's Royal Family, prone to jarring remarks and quips about women, the deaf, and overweight children.

"You're too fat to be an astronaut," he once told a boy sharing his dream of space travel.

British media who delighted in quoting him are still lamenting the 96-year-old's recent retirement from public duties. But the people of the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu are likely to be optimistic he'll now have the time to join them: They worship him as a god and have based a religion on him.

Followers of the Prince Philip Movement, which started in the 1960s, believe that the prince was born to fulfill an ancient prophecy: that the son of an ancient mountain spirit would one day take the form of a pale-skinned man, travel abroad, marry a powerful lady, and eventually return to the island. When villagers saw the prince’s portrait, they felt the spirit in it, and when he visited Vanuatu in 1974, they were convinced.

Chief Jack Naiva, a respected warrior in the culture, greeted the royal yacht and caught sight of Philip on board. "I saw him standing on the deck in his white uniform," Naiva once said. "I knew then that he was the true messiah."

True believers assign large world movements to the machinations of Philip. They once claimed his powers had enabled a black man to become president of the United States and that his "magic" had assisted in helping locate Osama bin Laden. The community has corresponded with Buckingham Palace and even sent Philip a nal-nal, a traditional club for killing pigs, as a token of its appreciation. In return, he sent a portrait in which he’s holding the gift.

Sikor Natuan, the son of the local chief, holds two official portraits of Britain's Prince Philip in front of the chief's hut in the remote village of Yaohnanen on Tanna in Vanuatu.
TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images

The picture is now part of a shrine set up in Yaohnanen in Vanuatu that includes other photos and a Union flag. In May 2017, shortly after the Prince announced his retirement, a cyclone threatened the island—and its shrine. But according to Matthew Baylis, an author who has lived with the tribe, the natives didn't see this so much as a cause for concern as they did a harbinger of the prince's arrival so he can bask in their worship.

To date, Prince Philip has not announced any plans to relocate.

A version of this story ran in a 2012 issue of Mental Floss magazine.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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