Off on the horizon a long string of headlights slowly approached. A runner strode in front of the lead car, torch in hand. I stepped out onto the highway, my chest swelling under a sweat shirt that said, "Olympic Torch Relay—Detroit, 1968." I crouched like the anchor man in a quarter-mile relay. What if I drop the baton? I wondered nervously. I grabbed the torch and ran off feeling like the Statue of Liberty.
One of the half dozen station wagons pulled alongside. "If the torch goes out, keep running," said a voice. "We'll pass you another." I was horrified to hear that the torch might ever go out. Somehow I supposed that if the flame died we would return to Los Angeles and start all over again. After a mile I passed the torch off to the next runner, Ed Alexejun. His mother-in-law wanted to see him carry it, otherwise he would have stayed home. She cheered as Ed went by. I stopped and climbed into O'Shea's car.
"Let's get down to city hall," he said. Two miles down the road, a flashing blue light appeared in his rearview mirror—and it was not the police car that had been guarding the runner.
"You were going 65 in a 50-mile zone," snarled the policemen.
"We're in the torch run to city hall," we said, emphasizing city hall and pointing at our sweat shirts.
"Slow that car to a walk or you're going to jail instead!"
At city hall Coach Ted Haydon stood in the center of a group of runners. Otherwise the streets were empty. A drunk conventioner wobbled by and stared wide-eyed at the sweat-suited athletes. He shook his head and staggered on. I spotted the Olympic-torch bus parked about a block away from city hall. I waved at Al Blanchard in the front seat. "General Grant is sleeping in back," he said jerking a thumb rearward toward Klein. A reporter from the Detroit Free Press, nodding at the wheel of the bus, was startled wide-awake.
"You're one of the runners," he said, reaching for his notebook as if by reflex. "What's your name?"
" Higdon," I said, then spelled it five times.