WHO carried the mail through Death Valley?

When my dad and uncles would meet, a common greeting would be ‘Who carried the mail through Death Valley?’

Since I’m working from home today, I have the TV on in the background. The Rifleman episode ‘The Most Amazing Man’ is playing. Lucas is reading a letter that starts out ‘Who [did something amazing in Montana]? Who killed two rattlesnakes with one shot?’ etc.

I’m guessing that this was a familiar meme in the '50s and '60s, so it probably originated earlier.

So where did it come from?

Who put the ram in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong?

Who rocked the cradle of love?

Who put the underwear in Mrs. Murphy’s chowder?

Who moved my cheese? No, seriously, I’ve been looking for it for years!

Who’s on First

There’s only one answer to these questions: Chuck Norris.

“Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine”

I appreciate funny answers, but five and no serious ones?

Sorry, didn’t notice it was GQ.

You might ask Mr Owl.


-The Caterpillar

Just a way of saying “Chuck Norris.”

I was around back then, and I’ve never heard anybody say anything even close to what the OP describes.

As someone who was a kid in the 50’s, this all reminds me of the “Who’s your friend?” deal. If my sister was going to share her candy with me, she might ask, “Who’s your friend?” and if I didn’t answer, “You!” then I didn’t get the candy. Or a bully might start torturing you and ask, Who’s your friend?" and if you didn’t answer, “You!” then the pain would continue. So the whole “Who” thing is just a setup for a pre-packaged answer.

So the only reason to ask the “Who” question is to elicit the expected answer, whatever that may be. “Who’s the best shot?” Why the Rifleman is, of course. “Who carried the mail through Death Valley?” Some bad-ass cowboys, I’d say… it really doesn’t matter what the answer is as long as everyone asking and answering knows the drill.

Who’s your daddy?

Is he rich like me?

I’m with Ornery. Say Allen is talking to Bob. Both Allan and Bob know that in 12th grade, Bob had his way with 14 virgins. You’d get a conversation like this:

Allen: Are you sure you can pull off this bank job?
Bob: Absolutely!
Allen: I don’t know . . .
Bob: Hey, who had his way with 14 virgins in Grade 12?

Knowing smiles. Allen and Bob shake hands, in that 1950s era way where there is just one exaggerated pump up and down. Allen is convinced Bob will come through.

Is that what you mean?

Moderator Note

Please note that in the General Questions forum, you should hold off on the less serious answers until the question has been addressed factually. I know you are all having fun, but let’s try to get at least one factual answer in here before we continue on with the jokes.

Dad and the uncles only used one, or maybe two questions. But I think the… schtick? involves a series of extraordinary claims. On the TV show today, there were at least three or four. (I was working, so I wasn’t really paying attention.) Just making things up, ‘Who carried the mail through Death Valley? Who dug the Grand Canyon? Who charmed a bear out of his skin and et him for dinner and wore the skin as a robe? Who packed all the snow up into the Rockies? Me!

I’ve seen variations on the theme in mountain man movies, but usually those are declaratives instead of questions.

Woody Guthrie knew the score.