Kilroy Was Here Kilroy's Christmas Trolley Part 2

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

Kilroy's Christmas Trolley

After the broadcast that night, she remembers, Kilroy sat down and penned a letter to the Transit Company of America, proving he indeed was the Kilroy who was "here."

"Jim was a checker at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, just south of Boston," says Mrs. Kilroy. "He started to work there in 1941 shortly before Pearl Harbor. His job was to go around and count the number of holes a riveter had filled. The riveters were on piece work and got paid so much for each rivet. After he had counted the rivets, he'd put a check mark in chalk, so the rivets wouldn't be counted twice.

"Now, some riveters would wait until the checker went off duty and erase the last mark. Another checker would come through and count the rivets a second time, and the riveters would get paid twice. Just as he was going off duty one day, Jim heard his boss ask a riveter if Kilroy had been by checking rivets. The riveter said no. When Jim heard that, he got angry because he had just checked those particular rivets. He took some chalk, went over to where the two men were standing, and wrote, 'Kilroy Was Here,' in big letters over the rivets. That was the start of it. After that, every time he checked the rivets, he scrawled, 'Kilroy Was Here,' in big letters next to the check mark."

Ordinarily, the rivets and chalk marks would have been covered up by paint. But there was a war on, and ships were leaving the Quincy yard so fast there wasn't time enough to paint them. And so they arrived at their destinations with the now mysterious inscriptions still on them.

Kilroy's prize in that Transit Company contest turned out to be a 2-ton trolley car. It was 25 ft. long and 7 ft. high. Exactly what the Transit Company of America figured Kilroy, or anybody else, was supposed to do with a vintage trolley-it had been built in 1910-must remain a moot point.

Jim Kilroy, however, was not about to be overwhelmed by a mere streetcar. He gathered his children around him. When Peggy, 15; James, 13; Mary Ann, 12; Robert, 10; Ellen, 9; Ann, 6; Kathleen, 4; Larry, 3; and Judy, six months, were all together, he asked them: "How would you like Santa Claus to bring you a trolley car for Christmas?" They were overjoyed. After all, what child wouldn't want a real trolley car for Christmas?

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