Caspar Weinberger, soon to be secretary of defense, on inaugural madness: "All you need to do is find a parking space and you're all right."
Chances are he didn't find one outside the Corcoran Gallery of Art Saturday afternoon. He and several hundred appeared for a champagne reception, sponsored by the Fine Arts Committee for the Presidential Inaugural 1981, to preview the Leonardo da Vinci manuscript, the Codex Leicester, which was bought last month by philanthropist Armand Hammer, Corcoran trustee and patron saint. Hammer, 82, escorted Nancy Reagan through the exhibit during her brief visit. She wore a grass-green silk outfit and brown shoes.
"She asked a lot of good questions," said Hammer, who brought 57 people to town for the inaugural festivities. (He said he's known Ron and Nancy for several years.)
Nancy Reagan's California friends came -- Betsy Bloomingdale, Jerry Zipkin (he was with her), Beverly Morsey. They all kept their coats on.
"I went up to Betsy Bloomingdale and Jerry Zipkin and introduced myself," said art collector Gilbert Kinney, "and told them I used to be director of the Corcoran. They said it was good to be here, and then Tom Brokaw came along to interview them and I couldn't compete with that."
Even Jimmy Stewart was there, walking around the museum, amiably accepting all the attention. "We're running from one thing to the next," he said. "We've got two things to go to tonight. I can't remember what they are." (He was later seen at the Dickerson dinner at Pisces.)
Mayor Marion Barry came. "Unfortunately, I'm having to get used to seeing fewer black faces," he said. "I was over at W. Clement Stone's party last night. I was the only one of me I saw."
There were Democrats there, too -- National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Livingston Biddle, Institute for Museum Services head Lee Kimche. Even Esther Coopersmith, who has raised a lot of money for Democrats. All claimed art as the excuse.
"I collect political memorabilia," said Coopersmith. "This is a historical occasion. And, this, too, will pass." Just then, Nancy Reagan walked by. "Oh, look, she's cute!" exclaimed Coopersmith. "She's so little."