"I must confess something," said Rep. Newton I. Steers Jr. (R-Md.) as he walked over the U.S. Capitol to take the oath as Montgomery County's new congressman. "I don't know which is the House side and which is the Senate side."
It was a problem he soon solved. But like the other 69 newly-elected members of the House, Steers spent his first day in office trying to find his way around the Capitol's corridors and discovering how tedious hour-long roll-call votes can be.
"They have a marvelous thing, called an electronic voting machine, which - of course - they did not use," turning from spending what he called "two extraordinarily boring hours in the House."
As he attempted to navigate his way about the Capitol, the former state senator remarked in an understatement, "One of the problems is that it's three times as big as the Maryland state House."
Asking a policeman for directions. Steers found his way to the thickly carpeted Speaker's Gallery, where he and other new congressmen were being issued their plastic voting-machine cards, a very special kind of credit card.
Introducing himself to several colleagues, Steers momentarily didn't recognize the powerful chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who became a national figure during the Watergate investigation. "Oh, you're Rodino," Steers said, as he shook hands with Rep. Peter W. Rodino Jr. (D-N.J.).
Steers was accompanied by his three sons, Ivan, 18, Hugh, 14, and Burr, 11, to the afternoon session where all House members of the new 95th Congress were sworn in simultaneously.
"Do you think Davis will be there?" Burr asked his father, referring to Democrat Lanny Davis, who Steers beat by more than 11,000 votes in November.
"No, he certainly will not," Steers replied, adding that he was only allotted three tickets to the House gallery for yesterday's opening session and had not given one to Davis.
Afterward, Burr said he "barely" managed to stay awake though he had a front-row seat in the House chamber next to his father. "They had two roll calls. One to see if everyone was there and another for fun," said the St. Albans student.
For the time being, Steers, at 59 the oldest newly elected member of Congress, and seven members of this congressional staff of 17, are crowded into temporary space of the House District Committee while waiting for their own offices to become available.
William Grigg, Steer's administrative assistant, offered a champagne toast at a small party of staff members and former campaign workers, saying, "Here is two, four, six, eight - or however many years it's going to be," that Steers will serve in Congress.
One man who attended more than one such party on the Hill yesterday said, "I'm glad I came over here. There wasn't any booze, just punch, at Gladys'," referring to Rep. Gladys N. Spellman (D-Md.).
Steers later returned to a working House session that ran into the evening.