"Mrs. Truman stood in the first receiving line," recalls Annette (Mrs. John J.) Ladd, who has worked on every Goodwill Embassy tour since the first one in 1947. "But today we have too many people to ask the First Lady to stand in line that long." So Nancy Reagan is the honorary chairperson for the 36th Annual Goodwill Embassy Tour, Saturday from 11 to 5:30.
The embassies scheduled for the tour are those of Egypt, Portugal, Indonesia, Oman, Sri Lanka and Cameroon. The Congressional Club and the Inter-American Defense Board, or the "Pink Palace" as it is known, will also be open. The embassy of Argentina withdrew several weeks ago as the Falkland Islands crisis worsened.
Each year the Goodwill Industries Guild asks seven or eight embassies to open their doors to benefit Goodwill's rehabilitation programs for the handicapped. The sitting room of the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt has an elliptical ceiling decorated wiht plaster barrel-vaulted ribs of fruits, flowers, and oak-leaf applique. A needlepoint tapestry made by the ambassodor's wife hangs in the entrance hall.
The ceramic-tile panels at the Portuguese Embassy adorn their entrance hall, main staircase and formal dining room. The embassy also owns a number of 17th and 18th century handcrafted pieces. Ambassador Vasco Futscher Pereira's own collection of oriental sculpture and Portuguese contemporary paintings will also be exhibited.
The three-story foyer of the Indonesian Embassy is spectacular with a Tiffany-like stained glass ceiling and a Y-shaped staircase. Typical of the Beaux Arts edifices built between 1890 and 1930, the 60-room mansion once was owned by Washington hostess Evelyn Walsh McLean, last private owner of the Hope Diamond.
The Embassy of the Sultante of Oman is an 18th century French-style mansion, well known for its fine proportions with floor- length French windows and classic arched doorways, says the souvenir book. The walls and baseboards are hand-glazed and hand- painted to match the Italian marble fireplaces. Waterford chandeliers, floors of parguetry and inlaind marble as well as luxurious Oriental rugs fill the embassy.
The native art of Sri Lanka is on display throughout the red-brick mansion, home of the embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. A laquered wooden sofa, brass and copper work, fresco paintings, ebony sculptures and handmade silver pieces by ancient and modern artists can be seen. A contemporary Sri Lankan composed a batik wall hanging with three ancient Sri Lankan flags. It hangs in the dining room. Even the dining table is set with china and hand-woven mats made in Sri Lanka.
George Totten Jr. designed the 1906 limestone building that since 1972 has been the home of the Cameroon embassy. Outside, the building is noted for its distinctive tower and picturesque Gothic detail. Inside, bronze, wood and beadwork art pieces are displayed in the foyer's glass display cases. Cameroon's imports: cloth, coffee, tea and cocoa are also displayed. Pastel drawings of Cameroonian nationals in native costume decorate the walls along the staircase.
Tour tickets are $12 each and can be purchased at the National City Christian Church, 14th Street and Thomas Circle beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. Free bus service will be available. A complimentary tea will be held at the Meridian House International. Lunch will be available for $6. Call 842-5050 for more information.