How the Phrase
"Kilroy Was Here"
It was during the sad days of WWII that Jim Kilroy started chalking his slogans at a shipyard near Boston. Jim was the original Kilroy.
In the autumn of 1948, during the sad days of WWII, Jim Kilroy, a 46-year-old shipyard worker from Halifax, MA was trying to figure out how to get enough money to buy his nine children some Christmas presents.
"The Transit Company of America was running a contest in 1948," recalled Mrs. Margaret Kilroy-Fitzgerald, the oldest of the nine children. "They wanted to locate the man who started the famous 'Kilroy was here' slogan, and the prize was a trolley car!
"My father wrote a letter to the Transit Company of America to tell his story, and his claim was checked out. He was thoroughly investigated, and the people running the contest announced that, without a doubt, he was the original Kilroy."
In his letter to the contest judges Jim Kilroy wrote how he was inspired to write his now celebrated slogans: "I spent most of my time carefully surveying every inner bottom and tank before issuing a contract. I was thoroughly upset to find that practically every test leader I met wanted me to go down and look over his job with him, and when I complained that I had already checked out the job and could not spare the time to crawl through one of those tanks again with him, he would accuse me of not having looked the job over at all. I was getting sick of being accused of not looking the jobs over, so one day, as I came through the man-hole of a tank I had just surveyed, I angrily marked in crayon on the tank top, where the tester could see it, 'Kilroy Was Here!' The following day, a test gang leader approached me with a grin on his face, and said 'I see you looked my job over...'"