Do you remember Kilroy?
Your history lesson for today.
Only those who grew up during WWII will truly appreciate
this................. Do you remember Kilroy ?
Who the heck was Kilroy.
This is interesting....I too have often wondered about Kilroy....now I
know. A great piece of history.
Anyone born in the mid thirties knew Kilroy. We didn't know why but we
had lapel pins with his nose hanging over the label and the top of his
face above his nose with his hands hanging over the label too. I
believe it was orange colored. No one knew why he was so well known but
we all joined in! Kind of a war story--now we know!
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.
Kilroy was a 46-year old shipyard worker during the war. He 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
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 checkmark 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 a 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 .
So now you know!
Kilroy was here.