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The Light (Torch Division) That Failed
Hal Higdon
November 04, 1963
They carried the flame from the Coast to Michigan. It died at times—and so did Detroit's big hopes
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November 04, 1963

The Light (torch Division) That Failed

They carried the flame from the Coast to Michigan. It died at times—and so did Detroit's big hopes

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"Don't stop," shouted Blanchard. "That's the one rule!"

Hollander walked 20 feet with the torch and handed it to Jones, who sprinted off in the direction of Michigan Avenue, followed by the caravan of station wagons. Ted Haydon and his half dozen runners hopped into a Volkswagen Micro Bus like clowns in a circus. "See you at the Indiana state line," yelled one of the runners in the Micro Bus as it gunned past the Deacon.

A mile up the road the Micro Bus disgorged another runner. He took the torch, and Jones climbed into one of the station wagons. Several exchanges later I ran with the torch for another mile, passed it off, and sprinted for a nearby service station. "Can I use your rest room?" I asked.

The attendant looked at me as though I had just arrived from outer space. "Want me to clean your glasses too?" he asked.

Grant to the rescue

Back in the street I discovered that the caravan had left me. The flashing blue light of the police car accompanying the torch runner was four blocks up the street. I began to run after it. A few minutes later the bus swept past me. "Want a ride?" asked General Grant, leaning out the window. I shook my head.

The only other occupant of the street at that hour, a black mongrel dog, crossed in front of me. We eyed each other suspiciously.

I caught the torch runner on the incline leading up onto the Calumet Skyway, a seven-mile-long stretch of elevated highway that runs to the Indiana state line. At the next exchange I hopped into Haydon's Micro Bus, stumbling over the legs of runners jammed in the back seat. It smelled like a gym that hadn't been aired in 60 years. "Whew, I'd rather be outside," I commented, wrinkling my nose. "So get back outside," someone said, throwing a sweat shirt in my face.

At the next exchange Jones changed over from the station wagon to the Micro Bus. "Hey, man, they're going to stop at the tollgate and light a cigar," he said. "That was two tollgates ago," I informed him.

When the runner with the torch reached the tollgate, he swept through unchallenged, but the attendant put up his arms to halt the caravan of cars. "We're from the Olympic Torch Relay," explained Haydon, moving his car into gear. I pointed at my sweat shirt.

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