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  • And now, even more:

    In 1946 the American Transit Association, through its radio program, "Speak to America," sponsored a nationwide contest to find the REAL Kilroy, offering a prize of a real trolley car to the person who could prove himself to be the genuine article.

    Almost 40 men stepped forward to make that claim, but only James Kilroy from Halifax, Massachusetts had evidence of his identity. He was a 46-year old shipyard worker during the war and worked as a checker at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy. His job was to go around and check on the number of rivets completed. Riveters were on piecework and got paid by the rivet.

    Kilroy would count a block of rivets and put a check mark in semi-waxed lumber chalk, so the rivets wouldn't be counted twice. When Kilroy went off duty, the riveters would erase the mark.

    Later on, an off-shift inspector would come through and count the rivets a second time, resulting in double pay for the riveters.

    One day Kilroy's boss called him into his office. The foreman was upset about all the wages being paid to riveters, and asked him to investigate. It was then that he realized what had been going on.

    The tight spaces he had to crawl in to check the rivets didn't lend themselves to lugging around a paint can and brush, so Kilroy decided to stick with the waxy chalk. He continued to put his check mark on each job he inspected, but added KILROY WAS HERE in king-sized letters next to the check, and eventually added the sketch of the chap with the long nose peering over the fence and that became part of the Kilroy message. Once he did that, the riveters stopped trying to wipe away his marks.

    Ordinarily the rivets and chalk marks would have been covered up with paint. With war on, however, ships were leaving the Quincy Yard so fast that there wasn't time to paint them.

    As a result, Kilroy's inspection "trademark" was seen by thousands of servicemen who boarded the troopships the yard produced. His message apparently rang a bell with the servicemen, because they picked it up and spread it all over Europe and the South Pacific. Before the war's end, "Kilroy" had been here, there, and everywhere on the long haul to Berlin and Tokyo.

    To the unfortunate troops outbound in those ships, however, he was a complete mystery; all they knew for sure was that some jerk named Kilroy had "been there first." As a joke, U.S. servicemen began placing the graffiti wherever they landed, claiming it was already there when they arrived.

    Kilroy became the U.S. super-GI who had always "already been" wherever GIs went. It became a challenge to place the logo in the most unlikely places imaginable (it is said to be atop Mt. Everest, the Statue of Liberty, the underside of the Arch De Triumphe, and even scrawled in the dust on the moon.)

    And as the war went on, the legend grew. Underwater demolition teams routinely sneaked ashore on Japanese-held islands in the Pacific to map the terrain for the coming invasions by U.S. troops (and thus, presumably, were the first GI's there). On one occasion, however, they reported seeing enemy troops painting over the Kilroy logo! In 1945, an outhouse was built for the exclusive use of Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill at the Potsdam conference.

    The first person inside was Stalin, who emerged and asked his aide (in Russian), "Who is Kilroy?" ..

    To help prove his authenticity in 1946, James Kilroy brought along officials from the shipyard and some of the riveters. He won the trolley car, which he gave to his nine children as a Christmas gift and set it up as a playhouse in the Kilroy front yard in Halifax, Massachusetts.

    February 15, 2008

  • Thanks. Works fine now. :-)

    November 16, 2007

  • Try the link again. Should work this time.

    November 16, 2007

  • Seems to be broken, oroboros.

    November 15, 2007

  • Rt, I added a link to my comment. Check it out for more on Kilroy that's interesting.

    November 15, 2007

  • True, oroboros. Charles Osgood has a book (titled, not surprisingly, Kilroy Was Here) that describes the story in detail. Apparently the real Kilroy was James J. Kilroy, a civilian welding inspector in Quincy, MA. He would write "Kilroy was here" rather than make the usual inspectors' chalk mark. After servicemen began finding his mark, it spread like wildfire. Osgood claims that the bald-headed, big-nosed character peering over a fence, who became associated with the phrase, was a British cartoon character named Mr. Chad.

    My dad, who worked in the Pearl Harbor shipyards during WWII, used to draw this character all the time when we were kids. I didn't realize he hadn't invented it himself until I was much older. :-)

    November 15, 2007

  • "Kilroy was here." One of the stories about this graffito is that it was the surname of an inspector in the war-shipbuilding industry during WWII. His stamp of approval consequently showed up in numerous, surprising places as each phase of a ship's completion received it's okay by Kilroy.

    More here

    November 15, 2007