Monday, October 31, 2011

The Halloween I Was Kilroy

Not Robin, exactly,
but you get the idea
My twelfth Halloween started out like every other Halloween. My friends and I dressed up to go trick-and-treating. My friends were a Pirate, a Princess, and a Prize Fighter—all dolled up in homemade costumes put together from odds and ends from their attics, that nobody wanted to wear anymore. That year I opted to wear my father’s tuxedo and derby hat. (He was quite the swell in those days.) So we set out on our usual neighborhood rounds, full of anticipation.

Our bags were only half full when we decided to take a short cut down a back alley, behind a string of row houses. As we trotted along in high spirits, laughing and shouting, a man came out the back door of his house and yelled, “Any of you Kilroy?”

Being a wise guy in those days, I yelled back, “Yeah, I’m Kilroy!”

The man strode up to me and began pummeling me on the shoulders with his fists and bashed my derby down over my nose. “That’ll teach you to turn over my trash cans,” he said.

My fair-weather friends had long vanished, leaving me holding the bag, literally. I was still clutching my bag of treats. Dizzy and disoriented, I tried to piece together this amazing event. Suddenly it hit me. Some prankster had tipped over this bozo’s trashcans the night before—Mischief Night—and left the message: “Kilroy was here!” scrawled in chalk on his sidewalk. The chump didn’t know that slogan was invented during the war, to be left as a calling card by anyone who wanted to do some anonymous mischief.

Slowly, I trudged after my so-called friends, wondering how I was going to replace my father’s ruined derby. Would the haberdasher accept candy in place of coin? Fat chance. One lesson I learned that memorable Halloween-- to keep my mouth shut.

Robin Hathaway


  1. I love this story, but don't for a minute believe the part where you said you learned to keep your mouth shut.
    Happy Halloween, Robin.

  2. He pummeled you???!!! That sonuva--what's his name?

  3. Robin, what? Parents today would have him charged with assault! And rightly, think I.
    Regarding Kilroy: my dad, a Marine in the Pacific was on what they were told was the first assault boat at the invasion of Okinawa. He said that when they hit the beach, someone had already scrawled in the sand, "Kilroy was here."