Whatever the feeling was about Mr. Obama’s politics, most agreed that this one-hour ceremony marked a kind of new phase in a the country’s 233-year history. Few would know about that better than Florence Beatrice Stevens Smith, 104, who lives at the Heartland Health Care Center in Kendall, Fla.
The community room was already packed, with residents peeking behind walkers, when Ms. Smith entered, a red white and blue lei around her neck. The ceremony had begun. Though several in the room dozed peacefully, the set was turned up loud enough for people down the hall to hear it from their beds.
Ms. Smith did not say much. But an employee at the home confirmed what feature stories in the newspaper had said: Ms. Smith had been a typing teacher at Tuskegee University in Alabama and her father, a former slave, had served in the Union Army.
When Mr. Obama appeared on screen and began his oath, she moved forward in her wheelchair and adjusted her glasses.
“He is really president,” Ms. Smith whispered, as others in the room applauded. “That’s nice.”