Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cool Dudes of History - George Tirebiter

Today's cool dude ... is actually a dog. Although I graduated a Bruin, I'll have to admit that my all-time favorite Trojan is USC's George Tirebiter. Like so many legends, the legend of George Tirebiter is shrouded partly in myth. Some claim the original Tirebiter was a stray that hung around Curry's Ice Cream Parlor, or that he was actually adopted by locals following the death of his owner. Whatever the case, his fondness for chasing after bicycles and cars and biting their rubber tires is where he got his name. The "George" is attributed to a Navy V-12 student named George Kuhns to whom he bore a resemblance.

George Tirebiter grew to be a popular school mascot during the 40s and 50s, riding in cars and running onto the field of USC football games, often wearing a USC sweater made especially for him. One story even has him biting the nose of Cal mascot Oski the Bear to the great applause of Trojans everywhere.

At one point he disappeared for a week, the victim of an apparent kidnapping. The culprits turned out to be the crosstown rival Bruins. When he was returned stories differ as to what had been done to him—in one he was covered in honey and feathers, and in another "UCLA" was shaved into his fur.

Following his days at USC he retired to a farm in El Centro, where he passed away doing what he loved—chasing cars. A funeral was held on the USC campus, where the Daily Trojan sadly proclaimed that "Tires are safe now."

He was succeeded by three other George Tirebiters, but the original will always be remembered best. In 2006 a statue of George Tirebiter, one of the great dog statues of the world, was unveiled on the USC campus, depicting him in his trademark sweater with a piece of torn tire hanging from his mouth.

Bite on.

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