The Lone Star inaugural gala was held, predictably enough, in what was billed as "the largest ballroom on the East Coast." Somewhere between 3,500 and 5,000 Texans and friends piled into the Sheraton Washington Saturday night, whooping and hollering with gusto to celebrate one whom they claimed as their own, Vice President-elect George Bush.
Where else would you see ladies draped in mink drinking beer out of a can ("J.R. Beer"), distrubted free by Pearl Brewing Co.? Or a man with his elegantly gowned date on one arm and a stuffed armadillo on the other?
The invitation from the Texas State Society read "black tie and boots," and most of the guests took that literally. Many of the women wore cowboy hats, often black and sequined to match their dresses.
The Baltimore-based Lost Gonzo band played the kind of foot-stomping music Texas has thoughtfully exported to the rest of the country, and occasionally the dance floor erupted into what the uninitiated could only describe as some kind of square dancing, or as one dancer swore, "the One-Eyed Joe."
asked what type of dancing it was, former governor John Connally said, "No, that isn't Texas dancing. You can tell because most of them don't know how to do it."
"To have a Texan in the White House is good for Texas," said Gov. William Clements, referring to Connecticut-born Bush, who spent his adult life making his fortune in Texas. Bush was presented with a glass cowboy hat, which he wisely did not try on. He did not appear to be wearing boots, but he did have a needlepointed cummerbund featuring two elephants tossing a ball.
His wife, Barbara, stumbled as she came onto the stage. "I won't say I made a Gerald Ford entrance," she told the crowd."I'll say I fell for you." She did not appear to be injured, but it turned out the scrape required two stitches later at Georgetown University Hospital.
Debbie Reynolds introduced herself as "Carrie Fisher's mother -- Princess Leia's mother, better known as Debbie Reynolds, 'Tammy.'" Maureen Reagan was announced as a special guest, Donny and Wayne Osmond signed autographs, and actor Hugh O'Brien showed off a coat he described as "an Eisenhower jacket," which made him look rather like a senior bellboy.
"This is pretty sedate for Texans," said one woman as she surveyed the crushing, dancing crowd. "You oughta see what we do back home."