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Goat Heads, Grass Burrs and Inner Tubes

Delbert talks about the scourge of his childhood that led to playtime ingenuity.

| October 2019


There are a few who will argue that the good lord never made a mistake. This is not true. I offer the “goat head” and grass burr as prime examples. I challenge any reader to send me a legitimate reason for either’s existence.

I learned to hate these abominations as a child while playing with toy cars in the driveway. Many an attack on enemy positions while crawling through grass was aborted by an encounter with goat heads. Few things could halt a charge against entrenched enemy positions like a good stand of grass burrs barring the way.

That shiny new bicycle received at Christmas was rendered useless once the summer’s goat head crop matured. The only good thing I know about goat heads is that it forced parents to buy shoes for their offspring who might otherwise have had to go barefoot until maturity.

I can’t write about goat heads without mentioning inner tubes. The pace of my life picked up considerably after the advent of inner tubes. My first bicycle removed most of the limits and restrictions of early life. No longer did I plod along in play. I began to move at the speed of my imagination and reveled as the wind blew the hair back from my face. That is, until I had a flat caused by a goat head.

Early-day bicycles had thin treads and thinner inner tubes. Each day’s ride was prefaced by patching tubes and pumping up tires. It certainly took much of the fun out of great anticipation. But there is another side to the inner tube story. Few castoffs held the value of a used automobile inner tube, at least to us kids.

10/23/2019 7:20:05 AM

Goat heads were a real bother for those of us growing up in Colorado in the '50s and '60s until Never Leak came along. Squeeze a tube of that stuff into your inner tube and, voila!, no more flats! However, in the winter when you rode your bike to school, which I normally did, the Never Leak would settle over night into a glob at the bottom of the tire, freeze, and provide a thump thump thump ride for a while the next morning until the tire warmed up from friction enough to alleviate the lump.

10/22/2019 12:45:33 PM

this is so true, everyone got to school with a flat tire.....even the school yard wasn't safe to ride in as it had them too. So 28 kids, kindergarten to eight grade made it a 'school day field trip' and we walked and dug up all the goats heads on the four miles of roads coming into the schools intersection and the whole school yard. Sacked them up in old paper feed sacks and took them back to the school yard for a bon fire and hotdogs and toasted marshmellows! That was one time they did some good for u. And it did help every one suffered less tire failures after our school outing....want help do it yourselves.


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