I grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts, the birthplace of John Adams, John Quincy Adams and John Hancock. Quincy also was the home of the shipyard worker, Kilroy, whose name became well known during World War II.
Quincy is also the birthplace of the popular catchphrase “Kilroy Was Here”: During World War II, James Kilroy – a worker at Quincy’s Bethlehem Steel Shipyard – chalked the message next to rivets he inspected on ships under construction. With no time to paint over the markings before the ships went into battle, “Kilroy Was Here” traveled the globe, where battle-weary GI’s adopted the phrase as a rallying cry, scrawling it wherever they went. Soon, a legend sprang up that no matter where Allied Forces landed, “Kilroy” somehow managed to get there first!
From the Quincy Chamber of Commerce site:
After the war, “Kilroy Was Here” grew in popularity. So popular, in fact, was the phrase – which was sometimes accompanied by a cartoon of an eyes and nose peering over a wall – that it’s rumored “Kilroy” has been to the Great Wall of China, the top of Mount Everest and even on the moon!
I can remember as late as the 1970s seeing fresh “Kilroy Was Here” writings on men’s room walls. I’ll bet that even today, somewhere in the world, there is someone carrying on Kilroy’s tradition.
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