Alvin Kelly’s Claim to Fame? Sitting on Flagpoles!

By | October 15, 2018

test article image

It is not the most conventional way to fame, but for Alvin ‘Shipwreck’ Kelly it was certainly effective. During the 1920s and 1930s, Kelly earned a name for himself…and a certain degree of notoriety…by sitting atop flag poles and other odd elevated perches for extended periods of time. Shipwreck Kelly is credited with starting the flagpole sitting fad, which was popular in the Roaring Twenties and he even earned a spot in the World Record Book for his sitting ability. Here is the peculiar story of Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly. 

test article image
Alvin 'Shipwreck' Kelly

Kelly was an Orphan From Birth.

Alvin Kelly was born in Manhattan on May 11, 1893. His father died before his birth and his mother died in childbirth with him, leaving him a newborn orphan who was raised in orphanages and passed around to various relatives. At about age 7, he started climbing onto poles and a few years later, he scaled the outside of buildings in his neighborhood. Oh, and his name wasn’t Alvin back then. It was Aloysius Anthony Kelly. When he was just 13 years old, he ran away to work on a cargo ship and changed his name to Alvin.