Kilroy Was Here Kilroy's Christmas Trolley Part 1

About the story of Kilroy's Christmas Trolley from Kilroy Was Here fame.

Kilroy's Christmas Trolley

From: NICHOLAS EVOSEVIC (Pittsburgh, Pa.)

I have been doing research on W.W. II for several years. This is one of the tidbits that I uncovered about two years ago. I believe the article best explains the enigma of "Kilroy Was Here." Until a better explanation is offered, I'll settle for this one. As a youngster, I grew up in the Kilroy era. Who the heck was Kilroy? It took a long time . . .

Everybody knew the man by name. American servicemen in W.W. II had carried his name to remote corners of the world. He was Kilroy, whose name G.I.s scrawled almost everywhere they went in the catch phrase, "Kilroy Was Here."

Was there really a Kilroy?

Well, one fall evening in the late 1940s, James J. Kilroy, a 47-year-old shipyard worker from Halifax, Mass., was trying to figure out how to scrape up enough money to buy Christmas presents for his nine children. No matter how hard or how long a day a man may work, there never seems to be enough money around at Christmas when there are nine children in the house.

"We'll be pinching pennies again this Christmas, Margaret," Kilroy remarked to his wife that evening. They were sipping cocoa and listening to the kitchen radio after the children had been put to bed. "We'll only be able to come up with one small gift for each of the children. Money's tight."

Then over the radio came the coaxing voice of an announcer with still another commercial. "Are you Kilroy?" the radio voice asked. "If you are the man responsible for the slogan, 'Kilroy Was Here,' and can prove it, we have a wonderful prize waiting for you."

Both Kilroys beamed when they heard the announcement. That "wonderful prize" might be cold cash. And with Christmas so close at hand, it certainly would come in handy. At least, Jim and Margaret thought the prize would be "something sensible." Alas, that was not the case in this contest-sponsored by the Transit Company of America.

James Kilroy is dead now. He died in 1962. His widow resides in Plympton, a town only a few miles from Halifax. "My Jim," she recalls, "was too old for the Second World War. And he was too young for the First World War. But he was very proud of the tribute our American servicemen paid to him when they adopted his 'Kilroy Was Here' slogan as their very own."

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