Barefoot Mailman Statue
Hillsboro Beach, Florida
Eleven barefoot mailmen carried mail along the beaches between Palm Beach and Miami in the late 1800s. One of them, James "Ed" Hamilton, disappeared in 1887 near Hillsboro Inlet. Some speculate that he was swimming across the inlet to complete his route when he was eaten by alligators.
Better roads ended the need for barefoot mailmen. But they weren't forgotten, and in 1973 a ten-foot-tall stone statue of one was erected in front of the Barefoot Mailman Hotel. Fifteen years later the hotel burned down, but the town paid to have the statue moved to the front of municipal hall. Then it paid to have a second Barefoot Mailman statue made, in bronze, which still stands there today. The original eventually was moved to the Coast Guard's Hillsboro Inlet Light Station, overlooking the place where Hamilton disappeared.
The mailman is depicted as vigorous and virile -- and of course, barefoot -- with a jaunty cap and a big machete, his mail sack slung over one shoulder. He claws the air with his free hand, perhaps to brush aside palm leaves or a charging alligator. A granite pseudo-tombstone that explains the statue is placed behind his bronzed butt.
The Barefoot Mailman Statue joins the Barefoot Ranger Memorial in Blairsville, Georgia, the Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest in L'Anse, Michigan, and several barefoot statues of Johnny Appleseed scattered across the country, as evidence of a fascination for public-spirited men with strong feet.