Everything was possible, yesterday.
The most famous was none of them -- all being outgloried by a movie-star wife.
One had been a propessional basketball player, but that stopped counting for much as soon as the winning vote was cost.
One was youth, at 26.
One was a very gray freshman at 68.
All were winners, even -- or especially -- the daughter of Alf Landon, whom the country forgot about in hordes in 1936.
There were 77 new members in the House, 20 in the Senate of the 96th Congress, and yesterday was the day they got to eat the bacon they'd brought home on election day. They toasted themselves in benisons of song from a black quintet; in Dr. Pepper, in cheers raised with the last victory speeches of a long, long year now over.
All, of course, will spend less, tax lighter and sweep harder, as new brooms should do, and at the great susurrus of receptions all over the Hill, most still believed it -- except, of course, for the Old and Great Ones who glided in to offer welcomes, and remember the day in their own lives when everything was possible. Henry Allen
From the windows of Rep. Olympia Snowe's (R-Maini) new offices in the Longworth Building, the city spread itself, glittering, before her. Inside, the small party taking place seemed a haven from the crowded elevators and the storms of hometown voters scarching for significance from the men and women they sent to Washington.
Barbara and Carlton Snowe were there -- the parents of Rep. Snowe's husband, who died in a car crash in 1973 -- and so was Mary Garanites, the aunt who had raised her, and a host of cousins, college friends and staff members from the offices of her fellow Maine representatives. They ate feta cheese and greek olives in honor of the 31-year-old representative's Greek heritage and talked about her while they waited for her to return from the floor of the House.
"She's not an aggressive girl, you know," said Carlton Snowe, who had come up once a month from their winter home in Florida to campaign for his daughter-in-law. "Very warm person, a real hard worker, for from aggessive like you might expect a woman like her to be."
The representative came back, relaxed and happy, looking young and beautiful in a white suit with her dark hair pulled back and her dark eyes intense. She was settling into her new house near the Longworth Building, eager to get to work, a bit surprised at the attention she was getting as one of the two new women in the House, the gentle teasing about her single status.
Sen. Ed Muskie telephoned his congratulations, and Rep. Pete McCloskey (R-Calif.) wandered in. "Hey, where's your senior citizens' adviser?" he asked Rep. Snowe. "I don't think there's anyone over 23 in here."
The young staff, most of them already seasoned Hill staffers, were aglow. Shary Broder and Rory Little had turned down staff positions with other offices to work for her. "I just knew all the doors were going to open for her," Little said. "Everything would be new and fresh."
Bells sounded and Olympia Snowe wasn't quite sure how many had sounded. The staff thought three, and she was about to leave quickly to vote. No, someone said, it was four bells -- the House stood adjourned and there was affectionate laughter.
"Don't worry, Olympia," someone caslled out. "You'll get the hand of it."