Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
They came dressed in their tasteful pin-stripe suits, halter tops, creased blue jeans and polyester pantsuits. They looked spanking fresh and ready for a big night at the White House.
Frankly, they appeared a little nervous and a little hungry.
But in an hour, shirttails were out, shoes were off and ties hung like limp disrags from back pockets. Dresses and faces were mustard-stained and lips were sticky with chocolate ice cream.
It was President Carter's second congressional picnic Wednesday night, and it was again just like down home.
Everyone seemed to be relaxed and enjoying the bluegrass and country music, square dancers, clowns and food . . . especially the food - hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans and slaw. There was no cake walk
Army Carter led a troop of tots over to a shiny red firetruck for a rousing game of follow-the-leader.
Jimmy Carter, Amy's father, did the same with the press.
They followed his every move, pressing closer and closer, hoping to overhear a touch of down-home humor. They watched breathlessly as he ate a popsicle. Would he drop it? No.
Some guests complained that because of the reporters they couldn't get to the President to have their hand shaken or their baby kissed.
Most of the guests were glad to see the Carters, but were really too busy just having a good time.
A group of congressmen challenged Carter's congressional liaison office to a bit of volleyball. All in good sport, of course.
But then came a swift, merciless defeat by the congressmen. "I've never seen them with this kind of determination before," said Mrs. Richard L. Ottinger. "They really want to win."
Off came the coats, ties, shoes. Enough of this foolishness, boys. Its time to play ball!
Frank Moore, head of the liaison office, shouted boastfully across the net as another game got under way. "They seem to need some leadership over there. Somebody help them out!"
The congressmen hooted.
Rep. Martin A. Russo (D-III.), knees grass-stained with effort, served the ball shouting, "The one's for you, Frank!" Then he slammed it to the other side and poked the stunned Moore under the net.
His team, including Reps. Henry Nowak (D-N.Y.), Paul Simon (D-III.) and Richard Ottinger (D-N.Y.), cheered. Shouts of "Chicken!" were heard.
All in good sport, of course. Congress won the second game, too.
Elsewhere on the South Lawn, a bluegrass bank wailed "Okie From Muskogee."
A trolleycar circled the South Lawn passengers waving and shouting at the crowd. A clown wandered around alternately scaring and delighting the toddlers.
Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) stood on the perimeter of the crowd surrounding the President. He held a small camera in his hand and sighed. Too crowded, no chance for a shot from here.
Laura Burlison, 16-year-old daughter of Rep. Bill Burlison, (D-Mo.) leaned against a picnic table and shifted her leg cast to a more comfortable position. She also wanted to show off her autographed leg. "Here's where the President signed," she laughed, pointing to her thigh.
"We had a picnic in our back yard last week that was similar to this one," said Mrs. Paul Simon. "And my daughter said that the President's party sounded a lot like ours - only bigger."