Everything was possible, yesterday.
The most famous was none of them -- all being outgloried 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 so, 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
For Sen. Bill Bradley (D.-N.J.), formerly of Princeton, Oxford University and the New York Knicks, it was just another day of adoration.
He had to five very little, they gave so much, the hundreds who came from New Jersey to welcome him to the Senate, in the Dirksen Building hearing room. In the crowd were large, red-faced men with diamonds on their little fingers; a drunken woman weeping with laughter, saying "Let me touch you, Bill, just let me touch you," and factory workers who came down on chartered buses. His former teammates, stood like spare shadows on the sidelines, watching with quiet eyes as Sen. Bradley moved with mellifluous grace, smile automatic, eyes glassy, tired fingers barely cooperating in the signing of autographs.
The seas parted for a moment, to let Sen. Edward Kennedy through to wish him well, but they permitted him only a cameo performance before the chorus began again.
"Remember me, Bill? the Groveton County Democratic Club... Remember me, Bill, the speech at Rutgers... Sign it for Fanny, Bill, she's our maid, her last name is Bradley... Remember me, Bill, it was at the Hydes' party?"
"No," said the man who had asked the last question, as he turned away and the fever faded from his eyes, "he doesn't remember."
Jim "Bad News" Barrnes was there, a former teammate on the 1964 Olympic team and the Knicks, who played for the Bullets and the Celtics and the Lakers before all the injuries got to him. "They had to run me out," he said, a tall dark mountain of a man in a black suit and white vest and black velvet bow tie. "I would never have left basketball on my own."
Bad News signed autographs, but he was there to get one of his own. In one hand he held a yearbook with all the pictures of the players on the 1964 Olympics teams and in the other he held a jar of Bad News All Purpose Sauce, with which he hs been trying to make it big since 1974. He told the small boys who were approaching anybody tall for autographs to get their mothers to buy a bottle. "The rabbis have accepted it as kosher."
Bad News barreled through the crowd and thrust his book at Bradley. "Here, Bill, sign this, put something personal -- please."
"For Bad News," the senator signed the picture of them all receiving the gold medal together. "My man for many years."
Bradley gave a short speech. "As I look around the room I have two thoughts," he said. "First, I don't think the people of Washington knew how many friends I had. And second is that with each face that I see here, there is a story and debt of gratitude to go with it," and he told them all to come back to Washington soon, as the faces surged up to collect what he said he owed them.
To the faces he remembered, he looked earnestly down, and said, "I want to thank you for everything you've done. I mean it, I really mean it." To those he didn't, he listened politely as they explained. "I worked with you in the primary," said the young man in the leg cast. "With this on, I worked with this," He turned, as courteously as he could, from the man lost in his own laughter, who kept repeating, "Remember that speech you gave when you talked about when you was a little boy and I said you was never a little boy?"
"Get me something to drink," Bradley whispered to an aide with what was left of his voice.
Tom Ochs, young, red-haired and round, had worked as Bradley's advance man on the campaign and watched with pride as his candidate moved to the door. "I don't mean to sound corny or anything," he said. "But these days, there aren't a whole lot of heroes to worship. Where else they gonna go?"