Billy Carter emptied the Old Ebbitt Grill on F Street yesterday afternoon as he alighted from a green station wagon with a bottle of Michelob in hand and was instantly recognized.
Crowds flocked away from the parade on the TV set inside, choosing to watch Billy instead.
Wearing a dark topcoat, pin-striped suit and regimental striped tie, the President's brother cheerfully signed autographs, leaning on the hood of the car.
Wednesday night, having shed his coat and tie following the TV gala broadcast nationwide Billy Carter strode into a neighbor's room in the Washington Hilton lugging a half gallon of Jim Beam bourbon, and mixed himself a double.Billy, the First Brother, and his family had enjoyed attending the exclusive show with the likes of Elton John and Beverly Sills, along with 2,000 other guests. Billy had enjoyed everything about the show, that is, except John Wayne.
John Wayne, the graying patriarch of law and order and the American way, was just not Billy's idea of intelligent First Family programming. "Anybody getting John Wayne to come to a Jimmy Carter thing has got to be nuts," said Billy. "John Wayne was a damn disgrace . . . after he campaigned for President Ford and Ronald Reagan. I believe Amy and I could have written a better show."
Aside from the Wayne incident, Billy said his trip to Washington had gone most pleasantly. Billy took time off from the peanut warehouse business to fly up with his wife, Sybil, and their six children. The chartered plane left Albany, Ga. (pronounced All-Benny as in Jack Benny) with 135 people and arrived here Wednesday morning. The trip was a breeze for Billy, but flying on a plane was a novelty to several people ole boys down at his Amoco station.
Take Bud Duvall. He works for Billy and sometimes can be found beside the cooler in downtown Plains holding a Pabst Blue Ribbon. "It was the first time I ever been on one (a plane)" he said last night, before fleeing a Georgia party for several thousand people for the quiet of his hotel. "But after it took off, there was nothing to it. It was real nice. We had ham and eggs and plenty of cans of cold Pabst Blue Ribbon."
Duvall, who had bought a new brown plaid suit for the inauguration of one of his neighbors, shrugged this way and that. He looked very uncomfortable. "It doesn't fit me none too good," he said. The usual and preferred attire at the station is jeans or old chinos.
Duvall's first trip to Washington had been disappointing. "I don't like it worth a damn. If I lived in D.C., I'd walk from here to Plains to get back home." Bud Duvall, a softspoken, gentle soul, twisted around in his brand new suit and said he felt lost.
Earlier he had looked around the cavernous ballroom of the Sheraton Park Hotel, site of the Georgia party hosted by Gov. George Busbee. The place was filled to bursting. As the bands played favorite rock tunes and just Plains folk crowded onto the dance floor, the room became stifling. And suddenly, about 11 p.m., it seemed everyone decided to leave at once.
But Duvall and friend Brown Jordan, a modest peanut farmer from outside Plains who owns 57 acres of land, managed to secure a taxi. Jordan, a man of generous proportions crowned with a red, white and blue wool tam-o'shanter, just couldn't say enough nice things to the taxi driver. The taxi driver took them in from the cold and promised to deliver them for a small fee on the doorsteps of the Washington Hilton.
"Thank you, ole buddy, bless your heart," effused Jordan. "I won't see you again, but I'll pray for you. Now, buddy, I don't know you, but if you write down your address, I'll send you a bag of peanuts." Two women in the back seat, who reluctantly agreed to share the taxi, pulled their minks tightly about them and shivered at every drawl. "I know it's cold," said Jordan. "Let me tell you something. We left Plains in some brutal kind of weather. I got some cows and calves and I don't know if they're going to be alive first thing in the morning. It's so cold, lady, I got every bit of clothes I own on my body."
The cab pulled over to the curb and Jordan patted the cabbie on the shoulder and served up another generous helping of gratitude. Jordan and Duvall waited for the light to change, carefully looking both ways and said, almost in unison, "Walk," when the light gave the order.
They hustled into the street and as they mounted the sidewalk outside the hotel. Jordan kicked at the glaze on the asphalt. "But that ain't sand, that's damn ice . . . it's the first and last Inauguration I'll ever attend."
"Me, too," said Duvall. And they disappeared into the elevator and rode up to the 9th floor to join Billy and friends, finding refuge from the strange land over a Coors beer in their rooms.