I know it’s the fourth of July and I should write something patriotic but I think sometimes that can be over done. Don’t get me wrong, I am very patriotic, I teared up when we sang “America the Beautiful” at church yesterday, but there have been many bad things done in the name of patriotism. So I’m going for the real Americana – Kilroy.
I am reading a book for research for my next book titled Kilroy was Here, the best American humor from WWII, by Charles Osgood. Charles tells of the history of Kilroy that I thought might be interesting to some of you out there. Kilroy was a running American gag throughout the whole war. A picture of this bald, big nosed character showed up everywhere, on every continent, on everything from a ship’s hull to his graffitied face on walls of buildings, or under bridges. Charles says there is a story of a meeting the big three (Stalin, Altee (British priminister), and Truman) where having on July 1945. Stalin comes out of a marbled bathroom and quickly confers with his aides asking “Who is Kilroy?”
Actually, Kilroy was an actual person. His name was James J. Kilroy. He was a welding inspector at Bethlehem Steel shipyard in Quincy, MA. When Mr. Kilroy inspected his work, he marked it, as most inspectors did, but instead of a nondescript mark he would write, “Kilroy was here.” And that’s how it started. The picture that frequently went with the saying was based on a British cartoon named “Mr. Chad.” It’s in how this joke spread so far when the internet was only a speck in someones unborn eye! I guess at the time everyone appreciated the joke, and just took it with them where ever they went and that was almost around the whole globe.