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Those 300,000 “y’all come” invitations to the Inaugural that were sent out by Jimmy Carter’s people were really supposed to be souvenirs. They were, in effect, thank-you notes for small contributions to the campaign, not full-fledged invitations. Yet 250,000 of those who received the eggshell-colored cards took them at their word—and they helped give Carter’s big event the aura of a “people’s Inaugural.”

Among those on hand for the five-day, $3 million bash were, for example, Ernest and Audrey Wiesen of Wauwatosa, Wis. They went to work for Carter after he gave a talk at their daughter’s school, and when they received an invitation, they asked themselves why not—and saved $600 to make the journey. Postal Worker Ginny Scott of Santa Ana, Calif., took her Las Vegas vacation money and used it for the Inauguration instead. Said she: “I would have lost it in Vegas anyway.” Then there was the group of maids from Detroit, Tulsa, New York and Tallahassee who could not afford the $25 for a ticket to one of the seven big Inaugural Night parties. They put on a party of their own at the Northwest Gardens Restaurant, at $5 a head, complete with the Last Sunset rock and soul band.

Also present and shivering were, of course, the “dignitaries”—the moguls of the victorious party, local, state and national officeholders, journalists, academics and seekers of high-level jobs. There were some fat cats too, but with the new campaign finance law in effect, there seemed to be fewer than have been seen for many an Inaugural—particularly

Richard Nixon’s 1973 spectacular. There were also a couple of Kennedys around (Ethel at a New York State party, on the arm of Governor Hugh Carey, Teddy at a dinner to honor Hubert Humphrey at the Mayflower Hotel). But considering that this was a Democratic Inaugural, the members of that sizable clan seemed most notable for their absence throughout the week. Most in evidence were Hollywood stars, athletes, musicians—and Georgians.

For all the diversity, a mood of good fellowship seemed to prevail. Said one celebrated Atlantan, Baseball Slugger Hank Aaron, on Inauguration Eve: “Tomorrow at noon, the war between the North and the South is truly over.” Remarked British Ambassador to the U.S. Peter Ramsbotham on viewing his first Inauguration: “There is a great feeling of reconciliation. Such extraordinary good humor.”

At the Kennedy Center spectacular, Jimmy and Rosalynn stole the show, and from some pretty big names at that: John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Gregg and Cher Allman, Muhammad Ali, Paul Newman. At a State Department tea for Mexican First Lady Carmen de Lopez Portillo (a guest of Rosalynn, who had attended the López Portillo inauguration last December), Shirley MacLaine twitted an old friend. Said Shirley to Henry Kissinger as he jokingly tried to pencil her into his little black book: “I talked to you before you became powerful. That’s when I dropped you.”

Even for dedicated party hoppers, the pace was breakneck—the more so since mammoth traffic jams made moving, much less hopping, all but impossible. At the Corcoran Gallery, outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Robert Strauss partied along with Singer Helen Reddy and Actor Alan Alda. The Averell Harrimans played host to new Cabinet Members Cyrus Vance and Joe Califano at a buffet for 40 (including Lauren Bacall). Playboy put on a sumptuous party in the Madison Hotel, and despite the damage done by the magazine’s famous interview, at least one of Carter’s aides turned up: Pollster Pat Caddell, who squired Hugh Hefner’s daughter Christie.

One of the most elegant of the week’s private parties was a postInaugural black-tie supper for 250—mostly Georgians—held at the Sulgrave Club by Atlanta Lawyer Philip H. Alston Jr. The Carters have vacationed often at the Alstons’ Sea Island plantation. Among the guests were Reynolds Tobacco Heir Smith Bagley and his wife, Vicki, potential pacesetters in a new Washington social order centered on moneyed and well-connected Southerners. Another of the guests was Budget Director Bert Lance, who, unlike his leader, does not seem interested in projecting a particularly humble image. Lance alighted from a formidable black Cadillac limousine that bore specially ordered license plates: BERT on the front bumper, LANCE on the rear.

For the seven Inaugural Night parties—known as “balls” in pre-populist days—some 64,000 tickets were available at $25 each, which is cheaper than usual. The competition for them was fierce. Inaugural Committee Co-Chairman Bardyl Tirana hoped to distribute them fairly, and so decided to use the

Commerce Building as the pick-up station. Everybody, bigwig or small, had to line up there to collect his ticket.

Even for those who had neither the money nor the connections to make the big public parties or the smaller, private pours, there was no shortage of entertainments. Said David Collins, an Eastman Kodak employee from Rochester, N.Y.: “It’s terrific. I was down here in Kennedy’s time and I thought that was good. But this has it beat.”

There was an organ recital at the Washington Cathedral, chamber music at the Renwick Gallery, blue grass at the Air and Space Museum. Said Briggsville, Wis., Clergyman Sam Gratz, waiting to get into a jazz concert at the Hirshhorn Museum: “This sure beats paying $25 to jam yourself into a box in the hope of seeing Jimmy Carter.”

The National Visitors Center (once known as Union Station) and the carpeted lobby of Kennedy Center provided stages for native American, Japanese, Polish and Ukrainian folk concerts. At the Folger Shakespeare Library, James Dickey read poetry to overflow crowds. A fireworks display rivaled the one put on for the Bicentennial, but it was so cold that some spectators viewed it from their cars or zipped into Arctic-weight sleeping bags.

In all, the Inaugural was pretty much what its organizers had hoped it would be—a little less raucous and a lot less exclusive than recent ones. As John Claringbould of Lynn wood, Wash., put it, “This is a special way to celebrate being an American.” A bit more special for some than for others, perhaps, but an extraordinary show nonetheless.

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