Where Were You in '85? Or 2005? Inaugural Memories
By this time next week, the "Obamaural" will be history.
We'll finally know whether 4 million people descended on Washington or whether the number was somewhere below that.
We'll know whether Metro ground to a halt or whether it ran like a well-oiled machine.
We'll know whether the bridges from Virginia were reopened or whether District officials decided "You know what? Let's just leave them closed."
And we'll have read approximately 378,250 stories about inaugural events in The Washington Post.
I know this because I've seen the list of stories we have planned. This will be the most reported inauguration in history -- and rightly so, of course. My favorite part of The Post's inauguration plan is the spreadsheet that shows where reporters will be stationed on Jan. 20.
They'll basically be spread out every five feet from the Capitol to the Washington Monument, BlackBerrys in their frigid hands. If you are stuck on the Mall, it will be possible to use the heads of Post reporters as stepping stones to work your way downfield. (Luckily, we have strong necks.)
What will I be doing? Geez, I don't know exactly, though I can reveal that yesterday I was fitted for an Abraham Lincoln costume.
Before we start reminiscing about Obama's inauguration, I want to hear your memories of earlier festivities. The only inaugural I attended was Bush's second. I prowled the edges of Pennsylvania Avenue at the tail end of the parade. My only strong memory is seeing John McCain in the crowd and thinking, "I wonder if he'll run for president next time, only to be defeated by an African-American from Illinois?"
What memories do you have of past inaugurals? Here's a funny one from 1985 from Sandy Schwalb of Fairfax:
As we know, the swearing-in of President Reagan was moved indoors and the parade cancelled due to the bitter cold. I worked for then Senator Charles McC. Mathias, Jr., of Maryland. The staff had to work that day, so we could meet and greet constituents who came into D.C. for the festivities. We were also to provide refreshments.
As I recall, we were going to have coffee and related drinks available. In addition we had (among other snacks) many donut holes to offer. Certainly easy to handle, pop in the mouth, no muss, no fuss, etc. Although I was not directly involved in the purchase of the sugary treats, I know we had boxes and boxes.
Well, once the major public activities were cancelled, there were very, very few constituents (or for that matter, non-constituents) walking around the halls of the Rayburn Senate Office Building. The staff ate as many donut holes as we could (it pays to be young when working on the Hill) that day, but I know those boxes stayed around the office for what seemed like weeks.
Every time someone opened a file cabinet or desk drawer, there they were -- boxes of donut holes; mocking us as if to say, 'Okay kid, you can handle just ONE more'...even in March! Here's hoping for a comfortable and not frigid day!
Germantown's Bill Brobst has a neat inaugural keepsake: a metal inaugural "No Parking" sign dated Jan. 20, 1965, from the Johnson inauguration. Bill wonders: "Do they use the metal signs anymore? Have they made them in recent years? They are a great souvenir."
Anyone know the answer to that? I'll probably stroll down there today to take a look, but I wouldn't be surprised if hard times means those white cardboard signs are the order of the day.
What souvenirs do you have from past inaugurations? And what anecdotes can you share?
January 14, 2009; 9:10 AM ET
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