Its Money Supply Dried Up, the Great Peace March Stumbles at the Edge of the Mo Jave Desert

updated 03/31/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/31/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

It was billed as the "Great Peace March" and for a time it looked like it might live up to its advance ballyhoo. On March 1, 1,200 souls began a journey of 3,235 miles that would take them from the L.A. Memorial Coliseum to the steps of Congress, where next Nov. 15 they would make their pitch for a nuclear-free world. The marchers wore "Reagan Buster" T-shirts, waved American flags and chanted "five, six, seven, eight, we don't want to radiate!" They were sent on their way by sympathetic celebrities, including Lauren Hutton, Ed Begley Jr., Leonard Nimoy and Teri Garr. "I'll be with you wherever you go," pledged Robert Blake, who contributed shoe leather as well as his heart to the cause. "If we wind up in Europe marching, I'll be there."

True to his promise, Blake was there two weeks ago when the Great Peace March wound up in, of all places, Barstow, Calif., a truck-stop town on the edge of the Mojave Desert. The organizers of the march admitted there was this little problem with money—there wasn't any left. They had gone through $4 million in food, supplies, salaries and sundries. They needed $100,000 just to make the week-long trek across the Mojave to Las Vegas, and they said, another $11 million to complete the push to the Senate's door. Announced David Mixner, 39, founder of PRO-Peace, which slapped the march together, "It is going to be necessary for PRO-Peace to fold, so that the debts not be an unbearable burden for those of you who wish to continue."

When last seen, PRO-Peace was a cloud of dust on the horizon and the number of marchers had dwindled to about 500. The diminished company was camped at a bicycle racetrack in Barstow, and outriders were canvassing the countryside for donations. Surprisingly, the mood among the faithful was chipper as they rededicated themselves to the long symbolic journey. Robert Blake, who'd been to Hell Town and back, liked what he saw. "The attitude is sensational," he said, although he added, "I don't know what will happen when there's no breakfast."

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