Everything was possible, yesterday.
The most famous was none of them -- all being outglories by a movie-star wife.
One had been a professional basketball player, but that stopped counting for much as soon as the winning vote was cast.
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
The Shades of Black began harmonizing on the Our Father. Every plastic glass in 2154 Rayburn clinked into silence. Hors d'oeuvres held at midbite. Even paparazzi photographers paused.
Just as quickly, it began again. Everybody wanted a snapshot with "Mickey." That included the 100-plus Houstonites who had flown up specially for the occasion. Mickey, sworn in earlier as George Thomas LeLand, from the 18th of Texas, was of course happy to comply. He stood in the center of the room, an island of poise in a three-piece suit and penny loafers. He has cool, penetrating eyes and a swatch of beard on his chin. He is a 34-year-old bachelor, and already that is not being lost on Washington.
"People say I've got big shoes to fill," said the successor to Barbara Jordan's House seat. "Well, I've got my own shoes. Barbara wrote an incredible page in history. I intend to write my own page -- if not a chapter." Saying this, the representative moved on. For another picture.
Standing nearby was Alice Rains, his mother. She had come up Friday, was regretfully leaving last night on a plane. "Got to go back to work," she said. "I'll come up again when it simmers down." Will all this go to her son's head? she was asked. "Naw, I don't think he'll ever get a big head. If he does, he'll disappoint his mama."
Actually, said mama, Mickey was destined for this a long time ago. "He was always pulling the kids of the neighborhood together in some organization -- in our back yard. When he got older, he worried about the needy. Needy? We were needy. What am I talking about?"
Mickey LeLand's grandmother and brother were at the party yesterday. Gaston LeLand, 33, is working on a master's at the University of Texas, Houston. "Never figured him to get this far," he said, shining with pride. "A LeLand in the U.S. Congress."
At one point, the representative's show was almost stolen: Sissy Farenthold made an entry. She is the grand lady of Texas politics, a former state rep from Corpus Christi who got thrashed in the governor's race awhile back -- (every liberal vote in Texas was not enough). Sissy is now president of a Wells College in upper New York state. A TV station is making a documentary about her and a comera crew followed her through the room as if she had just won an election. The two Democrats, of course, beamed and held arms.
At 4 o'clock, LeLand was scheduled to leave the party and go to the House floor where he was to invoke homage to Martin Luther King. His mother had a gallery ticket and said she was worried she'd have to catch her plane before he finally got on the floor. It all worked out.