[Ads-l] Kilroy folklore

Bill Mullins amcombill at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 7 16:18:39 UTC 2016

"Kilroy was Here" has been discussed several times on the list, most recently last April.

_WIND & SAND_ Friday, Dec. 7, 1962 p. 2 col 2 [post newspaper for White Sands Missile Range]

Kilroy 60 years old? Far worse-Kilroy dead? 

Yes, that's the melancholy truth -- news to sadden the hearts of millions of WWII veterans for whom Kilrony was one of the war's great legends. Wherever American troops traveled the words "Kilroy Was Here" were sure to turn up -- often with the little sketch of a man peering over a wall. To the illustrious names that came out of the war -- MacArthur, Eisenhower, Nimitz, King, Bradley --  historians are certain always to add the one and only Kilroy! He was the U.S. fighting man -- everywhere at once.

How did the Kilroy saga begin in the first place? Well, James J. Kilroy, who died recently in Boston at the age of 60, got a job in a Bethlehem Steel Co. shipyard at Quincy, Mass., two days before Pearl Harbor. As an inspector he began marking "Kilroy Was Here" on equipment so test crew would know he'd checked it.

It wasn't long before the phrase caught on with the troops and from then on there was no stopping it from Guadalcanal to Murmansk, from Normandy  to Okinawa, Kilroy was there. 

Today you'll find "Kilroy" in Webster's Third New International Dictionary as a "transient soldier."

Mr. Kilroy became known as THE Kilroy after the war when the American Transit Assn. ran a nationwide contest to learn his identity. Still employed at the shipyard, Kilroy submitted proof that the legend had begun with him. As a prize the ATA delivered a 22-ton trolley car to his home.

And now that Kilroy's gone the war stories won't ever sound quite the same because the veterans who swap them will be feeling oh, so much older!
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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