The first shoes designed specifically for running were produced in 1895, 10 years after the August cartoon caption contest stamp — the 10¢ Special Delivery stamp of 1885 — was issued.
Yet the most popular theme for the contest was the messenger's wish for more comfortable shoes than the severe-looking pair evident on the stamp. An example is this entry from Terry Jordan of Potomac Falls, Va., "The least they should do is furnish me a better pair of running shoes."
Exercise in many forms was the second most used theme. Mentioned were marathons, track and field competition, health benefits of running, and several referrals to hopscotch. One of these, by Tom Shreve of Modesto, Calif., is, "A pre-work game of hopscotch always get me warmed up for my postal duties!"
Several entries posed the possibility that more than good service was motivating the messenger, an example being, "I can put up with snow, gloom, rain and heat — but those dogs will make me speed up my deliveries!" by Robert Shutterly of Cutler Bay, Fla.
One musically inclined entry had the messenger dancing the hokey pokey: "You put your right foot in, You put your right foot out, You put your right foot in, And you shake it all about," sent in by Steve Kotler of San Francisco, Calif.
The nonphilatelic winner puts the messenger on a relay team, and the line matches up nicely with his stance on the stamp. It is from Don Adubato of Virginia Beach, Va.
On the philatelic side, Levin Messick of Yorba Linda, Calif., proposed: "Airmail? Never! Pigeons may be faster, but they aren't as reliable!" I guess the messenger on the stamp did not have the gift of prophecy. It would be a few decades before powered flight was invented.
Both winners will receive Linn's Stamp Identifier published by Amos Hobby Publishing, or a 13-week subscription to Linn's (a new subscription or an extension). The book has a retail value of $12.99.
Here are a few of the runners-up:
"No wonder I'm blue! I've been trying to deliver this since 1885!" from Bennett Bardfeld.
"For only a dime, I can really make time!" by Edgar Dunlap of Gainesville, Ga.
"Whoa, what do you mean he lives on the 25th floor?" sent by Bert McGann of Berwyn, Pa.
"This is a heck of a job for a former Heisman trophy winner," from Thomas and Laura Tomaszek of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
"First, they take my horse. Then they make me wear a uniform. What's next — bicycles?" by Arthur Richardson of Swampscott, Mass.
"Will anyone believe the raindrops on this letter are merely postage dew?" sent by Steve Kotler of San Francisco, Calif.
"This isn't what I thought they meant by 'rate hike'!" by Gary Kufchak of Wadsworth, Ohio.
Thanks and a tip of the hat to all who entered.
The next cartoon caption contest will be announced in the Oct. 13 Linn's.