Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
President and Mrs Carter gave a picnic Wednesday on the South Lawn of the White House for members of Congress and their "immediate" families.
"Your'e sure stretching immediate" said one congressmam, a bachelor, to another who had a herd.
Rosalynn Carter said she and the President were both keen to get to know congressmen and their famililes, and thought informal picnics - this is the first of three, with a third of the House and Senate invited at random - was a good way. She couldn't recall - it was not worth recalling - whether it was her idea or the President's.
The President stayed almost two hours instead of the 15 minutes his schedule called for.
Someone spoke to him. "This may be the first party like this since Andrew Jackson's day."
President Carter grinned and broke into a laugh. "I really would like to have been at that one," he said, "- the early part." (President Jackson invited the whole town and it was wonderful with everybody eating an enormous cheese, until it all got rowdy and out of hand.)
Redskin players wilted a bit in the heat, playing volleyball or Frisbee, and the Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill was as damp as a Boston politician at a policeman's ball in August.
But Sen. John Stennis (D.Miss) was fresh and cool in a heavy black suit. They don't melt where he comes from. He said he felt like a little boy he was so pleased to have wrapped up water bills yesterday and had reason to think the President would sign it. When somebody said it probably helped to have a strong chairman ramming thisngs through, he said:
"No, not at all. Strictly nonpolitical."
He said he could not remember anything like this picnic, with only a dozen picnic tables sprinkled about, and a calliope and a open rubber-tired trolley tooling about the edge of the lawn. There were Eleanor Roosevelt's Easter egg hunts, of course, but they were just for the children. No, he said, he could not recall anthing like it.
"I wanted my grandson John here to see this. I told him this America, a different aspect of America," and it was clear it was the aspect the senator liked best.
Rep. Robert F. Drinan (D-Mass.) saw a clog dance going on on a little stage on the lawn.
The dancers were in wild costumes, clomping away.
Meanwhile, while all the attention was centered on her father, Amy Carter had joined the dancers and was doing a more than passable job at the intricate dance.
Rosalyn Carter interrupted her husband with "Look at Amy on stage," and the President strolled over for a closer look. But Amy, with ponytail flying, just kept skipping and hopping.
TheSpeaker beamed on his first grandchild, Catlin O'Neill, being beld by Tip O'Neill Jr., a Capitol Hill lawyer. "The spit and image," people said to the Speaker, and he beamed back assent.
President Carter kissed the baby and said she would be the first woman President.
A House member said he thought it was okay for O'Neill to bring his grandbaby since, after all, she didn't eat anything. (She also didn't twist anybody's arm or bend anybody's ear, since she slept most of the time).
The President, who a staffer said was "supposed to be working on his Yazoo City speech," got carried away with his picnic. His first act was to walk over to a roped-off pen containing the press and take down the rope.
Over by the tent where the food was being prepared, White House maitre d', John Ficklin, kept the hamburgers and hot dogs coming despite the evening's humidity and the heat from the grill.
"I don't know how much we'll end up fixing," he said, wiping sweat from his brow, "but we've got 120 pounds of hot dogs, 180 pounds of hamburgers, 50 pounds of cole slaw and 12 gallons of beans. We'll just keep feeding them."
Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) said he liked talking to people in this setting. He got a little business accomplished, he confessed.
Mrs. Carter went one way and shook all possible hands, and the President went the other way shaking any she might have missed. At one point they took to the stage themselves to do some aquare dancing with the Georgia caravan of dancers. The President wore a dark blue polo shirt and gray slacks. He kept kneeling down when he saw toddlers and took his time with them, caressing their hair. Twenty of them sat like bright crocuses absorbed by a magician, and when the President discovered them he stayed many minutes standing in the back-ground behind them watching.
"The magic word is "icky-icky-icky'"said the magician. "Now say it."
The President did not. The small kids did. Mrs. Carter joined him and the two stood a longtime while looking at the children, saying nothing.
A reporter asked the President about Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin's visit. "Oh, I think the probabilities of compromise are good," he said, and then added, when pressed about some tougher points on such a compromise, that "I don't want to talk anymore."
Rosalynn Carter said she did not think it was any hotter than Plains, Ga., and when somebody inquired when the last such picnic was held (in the administration of President Taft, someone ventured) she said she didn't know.
"It's the first for us," she said.
"Now that," said Emily Preyer as she left with her husband, Rep. Richardson Preyer (D-N.C.), "is what I call a great party."