Lynda Robb wore a white wool suit, blue cloth coat and long underwear. Her husband wore a morning coat, top hat and bulletproof vest.
For Charles S. Robb, inaugurated at noon today as Virginia's first Democratic governor in 12 years, the day marked his journey from the state's number two position to an expected spot on the national political stage.
The day started for Robb at 6:45 a.m., when he awoke to a breakfast of raisin bran and toast in the small Richmond apartment that he left today for the rambling governor's mansion. By 8:30, clad in his usual blue business suit and wing tips, Robb was hard at work in the cramped lieutenant governor's office where he has spent the past four years.
"Yes, Mr. Vice President," Robb barked into a telephone, as aides scrambled with last-minute changes in his inaugural address. "I very much appreciate your call. I very much look forward to getting together with you soon."
Down the street, at the historic Richmond church where Jefferson Davis first learned that the Confederacy was falling, Robb's supporters were gathering for a prayer meeting to commemorate his first day in office.
But the soon-to-be governor also had other things to worry about--executive orders to prepare, a plan to shorten the inaugural ceremony because of cold weather, a host of politicians to meet. "I guess this is probably like other great occurrences in one's life," he said cheerfully. "There are so many small details that have to be looked after that the momentum of the occasion carries you right through."
After a short conversation with reporters, Robb made a breathless dash through crowds of well-wishers to the interdenominational service at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, shaking hands all along the way. Bounding up the steps, he greeted his wife and three daughters with enormous bear hugs.
"I love you, daddy," whispered 13-year-old Lucinda as the family filed into the crowded church for the prayer service. Three-year-old daughter Jennifer balanced precariously on the top of a pew and the Robbs sat solemnly through a sermon celebrating compassion in government.
"I just loved it," said Lady Bird Johnson as she emerged with her daughter and son-in-law afterwards. "My heart is just full of hope for them, and I know they'll be strong enough to handle everything that comes their way."
From there, Robb was hustled back to his apartment to change into formal attire, and then to a coffee-and-danish reception with his inaugural committee at the aging John Marshall Hotel, which for decades has been a center of political activity in Richmond.
What Robb didn't notice until he arrived at the hotel was that the vest of his morning suit didn't quite fit over his bulletproof vest. Standing in a corner of the reception room before the dignitaries arrived, Robb strained unsuccessfully to tame the garments. He said that security officials had asked him to wear the vest. "I didn't want to make an issue of it," he said.
Departing Republican Gov. John N. Dalton and his wife, Eddy, wandered among the gala crowd under the hotel's crystal chandeliers, drawing big laughs with stories about how they had brought firemen to the mansion the night before when they tripped a smoke alarm with a kerosene heater. The refrigerator in the governor's quarters was well-stocked, Mrs. Dalton told the crowd, with turkey breast and roast beef in case the new first family needed a late-night snack.
"I'll be giving him the same keys to the mansion and the governor's office that I got four years ago," Dalton said, jangling a key chain. "I'll tell him to look after it well."
Robb left the John Marshall through a sea of top-hatted Virginia gentlemen, and led a motorcade through the slushy streets of Richmond and back to the Capitol. Moments later, he ascended the inaugural platform.
The crowd turned quiet and all that could be heard was the flapping of the red, white and blue bunting on the platform as Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harry L. Carrico approached Robb with the Johnson family Bible. "Place your right hand on the Bible with your right hand raised," intoned Carrico. The hush turned to a roar of laughter as the crowd recognized the judge's mistake.
"We should have practiced this more," joked a smiling Robb, relaxing for the first time in a long day. Moments later, he was governor.