Chapter 26

Three Generations Carry the Torch


WHEN THE Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles in 1932 Helen and I went from our Ontario, California home to see the climax of the Olympic marathon as the runners entered the Los Angeles Coliseum. Fifty-four years later, in 1984, Los Angeles again hosted this great international event. In an exciting prelude to those Games, our granddaughter Krista, our daughter Adrienne, and I had an interesting part.


The signal for the Games to start came after the entry of the Olympic flame, carried by a torch-bearer, into the Coliseum. Other torch-bearers had borne that flame half way round the world. In the United States, each runner carried a torch for one kilometer, then lit the torch of the next runner, who carried it on.


Our granddaughter Krista was to run with the flame at ten o'clock at night into her hometown of Irvine, which was along the world-spanning route. And our daughter Adrienne and I were to run with her as a trio, the first time a family trio had done this.


Thousands of spectators crowded about us as we waited. At ten o'clock at night it should have been dark but the flood of hundreds of headlights, as cars streamed past, made it nearly as light as day.


Suddenly the torch-bearer appeared. Guards held back the crowds so there would be clear passage.


Exchange of the flame went like clockwork, as Krista held up her torch to be lit. Instantly the three of us were off, just behind the first motorcycle escort.


Krista waved to the crowds. The crowds waved and cheered in response. She waved to us—her mother and grandfather. Twice the throngs bulged so far out onto the pavement that we had a hard time of it. But we quickened our pace and kept up.


"Were you tired?" someone asked me later. No way!  There was no chance to even think of getting tired. I was floating on air. I was being carried forward by the magical glow of a flame that had spanned half the globe, that had coursed through the brick canyons of Manhattan, across the prairie lands of the Midwest, over the mighty Rockies, through the timbered reaches of Oregon, and across the western deserts. Across the world from Greece. And across America.


This Olympic Torch not alone spanned distance; it spanned 27 centuries of time, carrying back to the first Olympiad. This was a flame like no other. It had lit—and was lighting—the world.


Krista's kilometer ended. In an instant she passed on the flame and another runner carried on from there. A 20-yearold granddaughter, a 47-year-old mother, and an 80-year-old grandfather were embraced by the crowds, and embraced them in return.

A sense of history embraced us all.