"Jimmy said that all Rosalynn was doing was shopping and all he was doing was answering the phone."
That inaugural-eve bulletin straight from Plains, Ga., implied to outsiders at the party a kind of intimacy with the next President of the United States a lot of people in Washington might hope for but - last night, anyway - could only expect to find in a roomful of Georgians.
As it turned out, continued Edna Langford of Calhoun. "Jimmy never did tell Rosalynn to call me back. "So Mrs. Langford and her husband, Georgia State Sen. Beverly Langford, came to Washington like "325 at least" other Calhoun residents to see Jimmy Carter, the father-in-law of their daughter Judy Langford Carter, become the 39th President.
Observed Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn with undisguised delight: "The Carter crowd is in."
So began the week-long invasion by Georgians of Washington's social scene. This party for Bert and LaBelle Lance (Washingtonians were in very, very short supply) was the creation of two Atlanta couples. Susie and Edward Elson and Nita and J. Mack Robinson.
They took over a hitherto little-known private club on Capitol Hill called Florida House, engaged a harpsichordist and flautist, ordered peanut soup, coquilles St. Jacques, Beef Wellington and crepe flambes from Ridgewell's, then seated their guests at five tables, each named for one of the Lances' five homes.
Dinner began only after guests held each other's hands (at the request of their host) and bowed their heads for grace.
If it started the meal off on a somewhat prayerful note, earlier the scene had been typically Washington. There had been champagne for cocktails (Georgia's Sen. Herman Talmadge held out four bourbon), and one guest showed up wearing a T-shirt over her designer gown that proclaimed: "A vote for Lance is a vote for Lance is a vote for the people."
The "vote" didn't refer to the Senate Government Operations Committee's unanimous vote of approval earlier in the day, accepting Lance as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Instead it was a souvenir from Lance's unsuccessful bid in 1974 against George Busbee to be the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia.