They presented themselves with handsome plagues, made pledges of friendship and listened solemnly as the man they dumped from their political organization, Francis W. White, read his memoirs of life "on the firing line" of local government.
And then yesterday morning, members of the outgoing Prince George's County Council did something that, three months ago, they might have blanched at the thought of doing. After waiting patiently for him to arrive, and asking his permission, council members lined up to be photographed with departing council member Samuel W. Bogley, Maryland's next lieutenant governor.
It was not, council member Gerard T. McDonough admitted later, the sort of Prince George's Council meeting that "someone from outside the political business would comprehend."
But it was the last meeting of a group that had traded and teased and attacked each other for four years, and it was time to explain that none of it had been meant personally.
"t's the nature of the beast," McDonough explained. "This is certainly as auspicious occasion - or auspicious enough, anway, for a good speech."
White, who was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates as an "independent" Democrat after he was removed from the party organization's council slate, began the meeting's sparse agenda with the speech.
Reading six pages of prepared text, White remembered that there had been "some rocky times" during his eight years on the council, but that "a strong County Council role emerged during the formative years."
White received a round of applause for his speech, and kept the cheers alive by presenting a plaque to each council member.
"I just want you to know," said council member Frank Casula, known in particular for his feistiness in debate, "that Francis White and I are good friends, and will continue to be friends."
"You didn't say that loudly enough, Frank," White responded.
And then it was Bogley's turn. Each council member shook his hand as the cameras flashed, and some members asked for two different pictures. After they had finished, council staffers took their places, each anxious for a posed photo of the councilman who was largely ignored by most of the council until his stunning victory with governor-select Harry R. Hughes in the September Democratic primary.
"Why not," reasoned John Lally, an aide to County Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr., who also discounted Bogley. "At the rate he's going he'll probably be president before long."
"It was embarrassing," said Bogley later. "It was a great tribute - in some kind of way."
"I've had my differences with council members over the years, but I guess" - Bogley paused - "they never disliked me or meant it personally."
"But to tell the truth," Bogley said, "I do not envy the people who are coming back. I'm praying that everything will work out for them, but I know that they aren't going to enjoy it."