Yesterday it was buses, not limousines. The participants in the inaugural social drama had to get where they were going fast, and together. The family of George and Barbara Bush, 130 strong, required four buses. Some buses served lunch -- with one fleet providing chocolate-dipped liqueur-marinated strawberries as dessert. At the John Sherman Coopers in Georgetown, over 100 guests on their way home from the day's festivities had choice seats on the balcony for the fireworks display that set off the night's celebrations. For the GOP, yesterday was a prelude to an evening of balls. But for the Democrats -- including former vice president Mondale, who was home by midafternoon -- the postlude had already begun.
Standing in one corner of the American Security Bank, holding a Lite beer, chicken czar Frank Perdue talked business -- right through the inaugural address. "I figure this guy's going to say the right thing," said Perdue. He then succinctly outlined his views of liberals -- against: "It all started with Roosevelt." On Reagan he was optimistic. "Someone once said a good baseball manager only has to win seven games a year," said Perdue.
Around the brunches at the Pennsylvania Avenue headquarters of the American Security and National Savings and Trust banks, the reactions to the inaugural ceremony were joyously partisan or cautiously political.
"It was a good political speech, just like John Kennedy's was," judged Joseph Califano, former secretary of health, education and welfare under Carter and currently a lawyer representing Alexander Haig at this confirmation hearings.
"Ronald Reagan gave a real true sense of leadership," said Stephen Harlan, president-elect of the Washington Board of Trade.
"There was nothing surprising," said former Maryland Democratic Rep. Carlton Sickles. "He attempted to establish a personal leadership. I'm rooting for him."
On three floors of American Security, people stood four deep around the buffet tables, the large television screns and panoramic windows. It was the first inaugural in years the Walter Washingtons had spent inside. "I didn't know people had so much fun, said Bennetta Washington, as the former mayor got an earful on the new politicians at the District Building and the school board.
James Shen, the ambassador from Taiwan when diplomatic relations were severed in 1978, was back in the country for the first time. "Ronald Reagan is a friend of ours. We expect some improvement," said Shen.
Quite a few people were incensed about Ben Vereen's performance at the Inaugural Gala in blackface. "I had no problem with him performing but it doesn't mean we take leave of our senses," said Peggy Cooper, the chairman of the D.C. Commission on the Arts. "Between Vereen, and Charley Pride saying Miss Nancy, he might have well said Miss Ann."
But not all the talk centered around the new team in the White House. The new coach of the Redskins, Joe Gibbs, was expecting to have good relations with Washington, Too. "The people I've been meeting," said Gibbs, "are really interested in the team."