Kilroy Was Here.
Today has been a day of serendipitous education. It started with this blip taken on Merlin's morning constitutional. Merlin is inspecting the scent markings on this tree root, he knows who has been there and when, a gift for deduction not possessed by Homo sapiens. Evolution has not equipped us for this talent, neither do we have the desire to be able to identify our peers by the smell of their urine. The first dog to mark this spot as part of his territory was undoubtedly known as Kilroy.
In my youth, the message, "Kilroy was here" appeared in the most unlikely of places, often accompanied by the caricature known as Chad. According to legend, when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, it was scratched in the dust at his feet; when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay arrived at the summit of Mount Everest it was cut into the ice; at the Potsdam conference in 1945, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill had their own private privvy, the first one to use it was Stalin who reputedly came out asking, "Who is Kilroy?"
The list is endless.
There are many stories about the origins of the graffito but the most likely concerns one James Kilroy of Halifax, Massachusetts; he was a rivet inspector in a shipyard. Riveters were paid by the rivet and it was Kilroy’s task to count them, marking each one with chalk as he went along and recording his findings; workmen would rub off the chalk marks, another inspector would recount the rivets and the men received double pay. A foreman was concerned about the excessive pay being earned and so Kilroy was directed to investigate, after discovering the fraud he painted on each section he inspected the words, “Kilroy was here” in big friendly letters to prevent it from being re-counted. Normally, the writing would have been removed prior to the boat entering service but, in wartime, this was often overlooked and the troops, not knowing the history, were somewhat bemused to find that, although they were the first men to sail in her, somehow, Kilroy had always beaten them to it. It then became a matter of pride for the first serviceman to arrive at a particular place to announce the fact by scrawling the message in a prominent place.