"It's typical of The Boston Globe," said Rep. Joe Early (D-Mass.), "that they throw a party for 600 people and only have one bartender."
The Globe held the changing of their Washington Bureau chiefs at a cocktail party in the Sky Room of the prestigious Army and Navy Club just at dusk last evening. Pundits great and small came to say farewell to Martin F. Nolan, who will move to Boston to become editor of the editorial page, and hello to Robert F. Healy, former associate editor in Boston.
"What is The Boston Globe doing having a party in a place like this?" one of the more than 300 guests asked, while staring at the splendor.
No one knew, but they mixed in the large room with a glow of happiness that would prevail throughout the evening in a crowd including Vice President Walter Mondale. Vice President-elect George Bush, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, House Speaker Tip O'Neil, former Sen. Eugene McCarthy and assorted Massachusetts congressmen.
Tom Oliphant, Globe Washington correspondent, wearing his omnipresent white sneakers, said of Nolan, "The chief's the only one in town who could fill a room with beautiful women, saloon keepers, sports figures, journalists and politicians.
"And when the new bureau chief, Bob Healy, maybe leaves 10 years from now, I might say the same thing."
There were a few black ties sprinkled around, making people nervous that they might have been required, but the black ties were going later to the affair for Bob Strauss.
The tardiness of William F. McSweeny, a former Record American sports writer and war correspondent who is now president of Occidental International Corp., was explained by Murray (Mr. Z.) Kramer, who was once his boss on the Record American and now works for him at Occidental: "He's back at the office getting into his tux and someone forgot to pack his shirt."
Kramer had his fuchsia shirt on, and, as someone noted, the only war combat he had was when he was handicapping football, and losing everyone's money for them.
Senator Kennedy had his black tie and was laughing with the rest throughout the evening. He laughed the loudest at his own quote, "Nolan is to the newspaper business what Grogan is to the Patriots and Havlicek is to the Celtics -- we'll miss him."
Nolan's business roommates said they would miss him, especially Robert Novak, who said, "Marty has been my neighbor down the hall for years. Every time I needed a question answered he would answer, and then he would walk back down the hall and reverse his opinion."
Said Speaker O'Neil: "Once these Boston boys come down here, they get the Potomac Fever. I know what it's like -- he likes to go back, but he hates to leave the place . . . Healy's back, and we're happy to have him."
Mondale came to shake hands with Nolan and Healy, and said of Nolan, "When he came to D.C., he wrote something I was against, so I called him and said, 'I never want to talk to you again for the rest of my life.'
"Well, Marty talked to me every other day in his column until I finally called him and said, 'I will talk to you anytime.'"
Bob Healy, meeting old friends, was never alone for a second at this party.
"I was here for 20 years," he said, "made many friends, left in '64 and I'm back again in my youth and launching a new society."
The name Marty became Mahty for the evening, and when Nolan received a gift from his office, he held up the book of old Ronald Reagan movies, thanked everyone, and tossed a quick scoop out for the crowd, saying, "Maybe no one knows it, but it's Tip's birthday tonight," and began a soft "Happy Birthday" song, and, as the people picked it up, it grew louder.