Postal Service First Day Cover Analysis

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The pairing these two pieces of ephemera, a slightly salacious men’s magazine and a U.S. Postal Service First Day Cover (FDC), may be confusing - they’re as opposite as the two tips of a compass needle. But in our case they’re pointing in the same direction: a story of World War II heroics.
This issue of Real Men is from August 1961. Pulp magazines of this type were noted for lurid cover art of manly men and helpless women. Their content blended fictional stories of lusty gallantry with true adventure tales. Doing this gave themselves a contrived credibility, mixing a tasty cocktail of fact and fiction eagerly gulped by its readers.
FDCs are issued by the postal service to commemorate a special occasion or as a remembrance of a historic event. This one from April 2, 1942, was issued to commemorate the launching of the USS Barb. She was one of a wartime fleet of 74 submarines built by the Electric Boat Company. The connection between the two, and the introduction to our story, can be read at the bottom right-hand corner of the magazine’s cover - The Sub That Sank a Railroad.

The Barb’s first six patrols were non-productive. This changed when a new skipper - Commander Eugene Fluckey - took the helm in May 1944. He was smart, innovative, aggressive and
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Unable to figure out how to destroy the train and unwilling to give up on the target, the officers canvassed the crew for help solving the problem. The crew’s response was immediate and assertive. But only one crewman, electrician Bill Hatfield, had a solution. While working for a railroad before joining the Navy, Hatfield knew the weight of a train causes the rail to sag. If they could make a switch that the flexing rail would close, they could hook it up between the explosives and the detonator. When the switch was depressed, completing the circuit, the problem would be solved - BOOM! The train would destroy
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