Tarzan Creator A Constant Seeker

Stamps typically mark the anniversary of an honoree’s birth—but with the Edgar Rice Burroughs stamp, set to be issued Friday, August 17, in Tarzana, California, the U.S. Postal Service is doing something a bit different. This time, we’re celebrating the centennial of the start of the honoree’s writing career—an event to inspire anyone who dreams of escaping a dead-end job.

Born in 1875, Burroughs was a famously restless soul. After high school, he briefly taught geology before joining the Army, serving in the Arizona Territory with the U.S. Cavalry until being honorably discharged for health reasons. Afterwards, he ran a stationery store, dredged for gold in Idaho, worked as a railroad policeman, and sold books door-to-door. Craving adventure, he even sought—unsuccessfully—a commission in the Chinese army.

Ironically, Burroughs found adventure in one of the least swashbuckling jobs of his life. In 1912, while working as a manager at a pencil-sharpener company, he published his first story, “Under the Moons of Mars”—with the first Tarzan story springing from his typewriter later that year, and more than 70 books in the decades that followed. Young writers who fear that their chances of literary fame diminish with maturity can take heart in Burroughs’s example: One of the most prolific authors of the 20th century didn’t publish his work until he was 37 years old.

Far from an irrelevant prelude to a successful career, that endless stream of unsatisfying jobs appears to have honed Burroughs’s professionalism. As he told Writer’s Digest in 1930, “the profession of fiction writing should be carried on upon a high plane of business integrity and professional ethics, without any vain and silly illusions as to the importance of fiction outside of the sphere of entertainment.”

Burroughs frequently downplayed his own literary merit, but from the first word to the last, he felt a deep sense of professional obligation. “My first stories were the best stories that I could write, and every story that I have written since has been the very best story that I could write,” he insisted. “I have felt that it was a duty to those people who bought my books that I should give them the very best within me.”

The Edgar Rice Burroughs stamp, which is available for pre-order now, commemorates the author who invented Tarzan, but it also celebrates an ambitious American who continually reinvented himself until finding his true calling. The lesson of his life story may be that tangents have something to teach us, and that even an unfulfilling job can stir the imagination, filling our futures with stories untold.

Tarzan™ Owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and Used by Permission.

USPS to Take Part in Alcatraz’s 78th Anniversary Celebration

Later this week, USPS will once again participate in the commemoration of the opening of U.S. Penitentiary Alcatraz, which marks its 78th anniversary this year. A special commemorative postmark was created to honor the anniversary, and on Saturday, August 11, Postal Service employees will cancel letters and postcards in the Alcatraz gift shop from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

For those who cannot make it to Alcatraz Island for the event, but would still like a postcard or letter with the Alcatraz special pictorial postmark, stop by the Rincon Post Office, 180 Steuart St., San Francisco. The commemorative postmark will be available until September 14, 2012.

Every year in August, the National Park Service hosts activities to commemorate the anniversary of the penitentiary opening. Many of the former residents of Alcatraz are scheduled to be on Alcatraz Island in honor of this special 78th anniversary event. For more information about the anniversary event visit https://www.alcatrazcruises.com/.

According to author Jerry Lewis Champion Jr., the discovery of Alcatraz is related to the Postal Service. The San Carlos, a Spanish packet ship, discovered the Island of Alcatraz on August 5, 1775. The primary function of packet ships was the transport of mail. The Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala named the Island, La Isla de los Alcatraces, which translates to “island of the pelicans.”  Later the name was shortened and altered to the current name of Alcatraz.

The first U.S. Post Office opened on Alcatraz Island on March 6, 1874. At the time, Alcatraz was a U.S. Army reservation known as the “Post at Alcatraz,” which had been established in 1850. The Army post closed in 1933, and on January 1, 1934, Alcatraz became a U.S. federal penitentiary. The island Post Office developed a rubber stamp that featured a cartoon-like pelican with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. That theme has been reproduced for the 78th anniversary cancellation. When the prison closed in 1963, the Alcatraz Post Office also closed.

Innovative Choreographers Dance into Post Offices on Saturday

Mark your calendar for the National Dance Day celebration presented by the Music Center and the Dizzy Feet Foundation on Saturday, July 28. Join Nigel Lythgoe, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE co-creator, executive producer, and judge, and Ruth Goldway, U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman, for the day’s events including the First Day of Issue of the Innovative Choreographers stamps. The ceremony will take place at 10:00 a.m. at Los Angeles County’s Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles.

Will you be joining us?

Save the Date, Tune in . . . and Dance!

Isadora Duncan, José Limón, Katherine Dunham, and Bob Fosse crafted deeply personal, yet universal, works of art that forever transformed the art of dance. And on July 18, stamps honoring these four legends of choreography will be announced on America’s favorite summertime series, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. Tune in to FOX this Wednesday at 8/7c, to see a live preview of the Innovative Choreographers stamps.

Plus, mark your calendar for the National Dance Day celebration presented by the Music Center and the Dizzy Feet Foundation on Saturday, July 28. Join Nigel Lythgoe, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE co-creator, executive producer, and judge, and Ruth Goldway, U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman, for the day’s events including the First Day of Issue of the Innovative Choreographers stamps. The ceremony will take place at 10:00 a.m. at Los Angeles County’s Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles.

Miles Davis Stamp Celebration in Hollywood Tonight

We are very excited to announce that USPS and the Hollywood Bowl will honor Miles Davis during a stamp dedication and unveiling ceremony prior to the “A Celebration of Miles Davis” concert tonight. The ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. on the Museum Terrace. The concert begins at 8 p.m.

Attending the ceremony are:
Eduardo H. Ruiz, Los Angeles District Manager, U.S. Postal Service
Arvind Manocha, Chief Operating Officer, Los Angeles Philharmonic
Miles Davis family members Cheryl Davis, Erin Davis, and Vince Wilburn, Jr.
Bubba Jackson, award-winning KJazz 88.1 radio personality
Mark Anderson, Los Angeles Postmaster
Joshua Ledet, American Idol finalist
Gabriel Johnson, jazz artist
Henry Rollins, actor, musician, and author

The Hollywood Bowl is located at 2301 North Highland Avenue in Hollywood, California 90068.

Hope to see you there!

Name, image and likeness of Miles Davis with permission from Miles Davis Properties, LLC.