Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Two years ago John Varga, a Hungarian refugee now living in Milwaukee, built a dollhouse for his granddaughter Lisa. Lisa liked hers so much she suggested that her grandfather build one for Amy Carter. So he did.
Wednesday, in the East Wing of the White House, Varga, along with his wife, Anna, brought the dollhouse to Amy.
Amy, of course, couldn't make it to the presentation - being off on vacation and all. And neither could her father who, someone said, was off in some other part of the house getting ready for his chat with TV network correspondents.
Nonetheless, Bill Cable and Dan Tate, presidential assistants for congressional liaison, showed up. As did Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.), who along with Rep. Henry Reuss (D-Wis.) was partly responsible for Varga's dollhouse getting to the White House. Reuss, however, could not go because he had laryngitis - the result of Christmas cross-country skiing, according to an aide.
The dollhouse itself is really quite splendid. Made of sugar pine painted a brick-like red and white, it stands 74 inches high and includes among other things a roof made of 1,500 tongue depressors and parquet-like floors made from 20.000 pieces of straw.
For his part, Proxmire wandered about asking appropriate dollhouse questions even though some reporters actually seemed more interested in what Proxmire had to say about G. William Miller, Carter's nominee to replace Arthur Burns as head of the Federal Reserve Board.
An appointment, needless to say, far from Varga's mind as he scurried first to help unload his gift from the truck and then to search for some misplaced doll's furniture, which finally turned up on the chair right behind where Proxmire was speaking into a microphone on the issue of Miller.
No matter. As far as Varga was concerned, his only disappointment was not getting to see Amy's reaction to his dollhouse. (A feeling shared, no doubt, by the film crew from Milwaukee's Channel 12, whose initial efforts got Varga's dollhouse to Washington.)
"I only wish Amy could play with it a little while before they take it away," said Varga.Because the presidential family cannot receive valuable personal gifts the dollhouse will, after a brief display in the Archives, be shipped to the Georgia museum.
"Other than that," added Varga, "bringing my dollhouse to the White House is the best thing that ever happened in my life." And Anna Varga, of course, agreed.