Or, as USC Guard Lou Byrd puts it, "Naw, I don't do any talking. Might tell myself to get going maybe, but Coach always says the kind of talk he likes to hear from me is the pop of the pads on a good hit."
On september 15, Erwin Erkfitz, a 47-year-old Detroit health-food-shop proprietor, left Los Angeles to walk to New York on six pairs of ripple-soled shoes. Erkfitz' aim: to dramatize the need of Americans to use their legs more often. "Let's use our legs or lose our legs," aphorized Erkfitz grimly as he sallied forth on U.S. 66 with a modified heel-and-toe action which gets him 7 mph on the flat. Erkfitz also hopes to break the transcontinental walking record, which he understands is 69 days 22 minutes.
As Erkfitz, accompanied by an associate in a station wagon, struck out across the southern California desert on U.S. 60 he walked into 110� heat. "It left me a little tired," said Erkfitz blithely as he changed shoes. He encountered serious trouble on U.S. 89 in the high tablelands of northern Arizona, meeting strong winds and rain. "Fate was unkind," said Erkfitz glumly, sticking a blister with a needle. He got up the following morning an hour earlier—at 3 a.m.
A vegetarian, Erkfitz gets his energy from nibbling on energy wafers, Fig Newtons with a wheat base, sunflower seeds and a rather tasteless candy. He gets his inspiration from verses with a marching measure—he is fond of Edgar Guest—and from the dicta of Percy Cerutty, the austere Australian who coaches Miler Herb Elliott: "Thrust against pain and be contemptuous of it. Pain is the purifier, the wisdom bringer."
When our Phoenix correspondent first tried to locate Erkfitz, he was unsuccessful, UNFOUND ERWIN ERKFITZ DURING VIGOROUS PATROL ROADS WEST, EAST OF KINGMAN, he wired. COOPERATIVE DRAGNET PICKED UP PAIR BUMS THREE TIMES, BUT ERKFITZ EITHER WAY AHEAD OF SCHEDULE, WAY BEHIND OR WEARS CHAMELEONLIKE PROTECTIVE COLORING THAT CAUSES BLENDING INTO ROADSIDE.
Our Detroit correspondent phoned Erkfitz' wife, who explained that Erwin had, no doubt, changed routes. "He's a little erratic at times," said Dagny Erkfitz.
Indeed, that's just what Erwin had done; he was marching steadfastly toward Flagstaff on U.S. 66-89. And there, with the help of a highway patrolman, Erwin Erkfitz was run down having a chat at a root-beer stand. He is constitutionally unable to pass a filling station or an onlooker without pausing to explain his mission.
"It takes him three hours to go through some of those small towns," says Erkfitz' associate. "That is what's making it rough on us. He could make 60 miles a day but he spends all his time talking."
"Nothing will stop me," says Erwin Erkfitz.