Posted by R. Berg on December 28, 2001
In Reply to: Kilroy was here posted by Barney on December 28, 2001
: : : : : In the summer of 2000 Paul Harvey, an American radio personality, gave a story regarding this phrase. Kilroy's name was James. His job in WWII was to inspect the truck-sized shipping containers on ships bound for the UK. To prove that he did actually do his job he would write "Kilroy was here" on the inside of the container. James is noted for keeping the quality of the contents bound for allied troops very high. Troops knew that if it didn't say "Kilroy was here" the quality of the supplies would be questionable.
: : : : Keep your salt shaker nearby. From Eric Partridge (a greater authority than Paul Harvey), "A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English" (Macmillan, 1961):
: : : : "This catchphrase, which arose, early in World War II, as if by magic, was written on walls, etc., everywhere the British and American soldiers fought or were stationed. No satisfactory explanation has ever been made; hundreds have been suggested."
: : : For other explanations,
see "What's the origin of 'Kilroy was here'?", The Straight Dope (04-Aug-2000)
: : : http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mkilroy.html
: : Not to put too fine a point on it, but Paul Harvey is the last remaining "journalist" who goes seamlessly from reading his so-called version of the news into reading a commercial announcement, and back again into storytelling. 50 years ago, John Cameron Swayze sat in front of a Camel cigarette sign, reading the news while smoking the sponsor's product... but television journalism has moved (ever so slightly) past that. Not Paul. His unctuous, grinning manner fails to cover for his transparent ethical lapses. I wouldn't believe a word he says. Ever.
: I'm with Bob on this one.
If "truck-sized shipping containers" means the kind carried on container ships, the jig is up. Those came into use in the 1960s.