"We wanted to keep our political family together, so we decided we'd have an annual get-together," says Hamilton Jordan. "But, inevitably, I expect there will be talk about politics and elections."
So it is that Grits and Fritz are teaming up again, this time to retire Carter's $775,000 primary campaign debt. And, at $1,000 a ticket, guess who's coming to dinner?
That, in fact, may be anybody's guess, but at least among those invited to Atlanta this weekend are all of Jimmy Carter's former Cabinet, senior White House aides and top agency appointments.
There will be a dinner Saturday night, with Carter and Walter Mondale presiding, followed by a brunch the next morning to unveil Hamilton Jordan's smashing new contemporary home 20 miles out in the Georgia countryside.
Jordan, who besides writing a book is guest lecturer at Emory University, says the idea to have a reunion got started aboard Air Force One when Jimmy Carter was flying back from Germany after welcoming the American hostages to freedom.
"The main reason is just to stay in touch," says Jordan. "People always talk about getting together but never do."
Nancy Reagan, who has just bought for $209,508 a 4,372-piece set of Lenox china for the White House, is going to be offered a 700-piece set of "Rosalynn" stoneware free of charge.
New York interior designer Carlton Varney designed the service, consulting with Rosalynn Carter on colors and floral pattern, for International China Co. of Japan, which will introduce it this fall on the retail market. A five-piece place setting will sell for $25.
Varney says he started to design the collection when the Carters still lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and he was a nonpaid consultant called in by then-social secretary Gretchen Poston to help with table arrangements for luncheons given by Rosalynn Carter.
"I knew then the house was short on china because I had to mix Truman with Johnson china to complete the table settings," says Varney. "Since there's nothing political involved here, I'm going to offer the service to the White House as a gift. If they take it, that's fine."
Chances that Nancy Reagan will take it are very slim, indeed. This particular luncheon service -- by any other name -- would still be Japanese-made, and free or not, the Reagan administration promotes American-made products.
"We don't know anything about it," Sheila Tate, press secretary to the first lady, said yesterday. "We'd have to see what the proposal is, though it sounds like a publicity gimmick if it's going to be sold to the general public."
According to the White House, the Reagan china is the first "full-service" set to be bought since the Truman administration paid $28,271 for 120 place settings of 19 pieces each. The $80,028 Lyndon Baines Johnson china, ordered by Lady Bird in 1967, was a "partial" service consisting of 216 place settings of 10 pieces each. That means there were no fruit bowls, cereal bowls, ramekins, cocktail cups, butter plates or finger bowl plates as there will be in the Reagan china, but in those days entertaining probably was a lot simpler.
The nearly invisible bandage taking the ouch out of handshakes for Dinah Shore the night of the White House dinner for Menachem Begin was courtesy of Navy Capt. Bill Narva, head of the dermatology department at the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine. Dinah burned her cooking hand testing recipes for her next gourmet cookbook, and by the time she reached Washington it still hadn't healed. Fearing an unsightly hand and painful handshakes, she asked to see the doctor in the house soon after she checked into the Jefferson. She knew all along he'd be her old friend Bill Narva, who isn't the hotel's official doctor -- only that of its resident manager, his wife, Rose.
The American eagle may be threatened out in the wilderness but a 5 1/2-inch-tall Steuben crystal version is flying high at the State Department. Retailing for $495, it's proving to be the easiest way to keep foreign noses from getting out of joint.
A Steuben spokesperson says the eagle often is given as a "symbol of leadership, courage and vision." So far President Reagan has given it to five visiting heads of government: Britain's Thatcher, the Netherlands' van Agt, Japan's Suzuki, Germany's Schmidt and Israel's Begin. (Egypt's Sadat got a limited-edition George Catlin lithograph. Does that symbolize something else?)
President Reagan also sent a crystal eagle to the king of Swaziland by way of Air Force Secretary Verne Orr, Peace Corps Director Loret Miller Ruppe and actor Don DeFore, the U.S. delegation to the king's diamond jubilee.
"It's like presents under your Christmas tree," says a State Department official in the office of protocol. "You don't want one aunt to know you've spent a dollar more on another aunt."
Another kind of eagle is flocking together to buy the Embassy Row Hotel here for a reported $19 million. But Nashville investor Jack Massey says there's nothing particularly partisan about the partnership he and 19 other Republicans have formed. "A Democrat could buy in if he wanted to," he claims.
Still, only big Republican donors, called The Eagles, were together here early this summer when the business deal took shape.( The Eagles are back in town for a reception tonight at the White House.) When Massey, Nashville contractor Joe M. Rodgers and several others from around the country heard that the Watergate Development Corp. wanted to sell the hotel property on Massachusetts Avenue NW, they asked each other how many Eagles wanted in.
"We wanted a nice European-style hotel with individual floor services, where you could put your shoes outside the door at night to have them polished and they'd be there waiting for you the next morning," says Massey. "There's nothing like it yet in Washington."