Not everybody was fired, of course, and in fact the Senate has confirmed the president's appointment of the first woman undersecretary at the Pentagon.

Antonia Handler Chayes does not look like a milestone, however, with her tawny-lion hair and clear eyes that neither stare nor flit about, bespeaking a settled steady outlook, I would say.

In her past two years as assistant secretary of the Air Force (for she is only newly up to under) she has run the half-billion-dollar military construction budget.

And she has had planning responsibility for $800 million for the Israeli air bases that were thrown in to sweeten Israeli release of land.

But she has a sharp eye for the little things, too. Termites. She found out termites were eating up Air Force barracks in the South, and was indignant there was no money for proper repairs.

"What shall we do, let the buildings fall down then go in and fight for new construction money? Absurd."

One way or another, the termites lost.

Same with certain German taxes. She discovered housing in Germany for American troops, Paid for with American taxes, was being charged German real estate taxes. On the theory that the Germans have some slight interest in an American military presence, she got the taxes stopped.

Now she knows the day is not yet here in which women will have equal opportunity with men to get their heads blown off in combat.

But it seems an increasingly good idea. Especially since Chayes has noticed that at missile installations it's perfectly all right for women to work upstairs, but not all right for them to get down in the bomb shelters.

In a war, a war on home soil, women will suffer as much as men. The refusal of combat status may serve less to protect them than to deny them status and benefits.

She is much into the fray of what military bases do to Singing Beaver, Ga., and such places. Often with some sense in planning, community benefits may be greater and disasters fewer.

And enlisted men abroad -- she has given that plenty of attention. Some howl, as she knows, every time a tax dollar goes to buy an Air Force baseball. "Mollycoddling the military." some call it, and loudly announce that at Valley Forge and the Little Big Horn, etc., there were no movies.

Now take an enlisted man stationed in Europe. There was no government money to get his wife and kids over there. The theory was that if you're a soldier you aren't supposed to have all the comforts of home.

Which is fine, except that few beyond the rank of cretin are much interested in passing up a civilian job to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do at night but write to the old lady in Peoria.

"The young unattached ones are the ones that get into drugs and all kinds of trouble, running around shooting up the town," she observed, But you send the wife over and presto, they're home, sound asleep by 10.

Now on the MX missile complex the possibilites of disrupted environment are vast. Chayes is deep into that.

On the side she runs a household, with no squawks.

Her husband is Abram Chayes, law professor at Harvard. This year he commutes to Washington. Next year she will do the commuting, to Boston.

Thank God, she observes, her Husband is the most supportive, generous and fair-minded man in this world,

When she was summoned by her Air Force superior to be told the president had named her to the new job, she went in a trifle uneasy, wondering what particular thing was the matter and reviewing possible grounds for her being royally chewed out, but when she heard the good news she recovered rapidly, smiled and said briskly (according to a reliable source):

"Good. Thank you. I deserve it." Returning to Peoria, home of the soldier's old lady and the rock-ribbed center of the American World, as many perceive it, I have news brought by the mayor, with whom I recently had a private audience.

"Did you really feel anger at the Nixon administration's habit of continual speculation whether something or other would play in Peoria?" I wondered.

"Not really," said Richard Carver, who was elected mayor seven years ago at the age of 34. "The expression comes from vaudeville. They used to say that if it would play in Peoria it would play anywhere."

Except of course maybe Boston. Carver nodded.

The demographics of Peoria are typical for the entire nation, the mix of industry and commerce and so on, expect that the average family income is $18,000 which is about $3,000 higher than the national figure.

"That's because of the Caterpillar Tractor Co., which pays good wages. Also we have more park land per capita than any other city. The whole river front has been saved as publicuse land.

"There are great bluffs rising above the river (the Illinois) which is a mile wide at Peoria, and you can see for a hundred miles to the north."

And yes, if you keep prodding him, it is very beautiful.

He saw President Carter on the Wednesday before the energy speech and began (it was learned) by saying he wished we had a Republican president. Still (for one must make do) he said that even Republicans are Americans and heartily want the president to succeed with energy solutions.

There were 16 or 17 people around the table, he said, and the president began with a 20-minute talk, then askem each man, in turn, to level with him. Carver told his to be more forceful. Carver thinks decontrol of oil pricing is the way to go. He is not one to hit the oil companies over the head:

"Windfall profits. An interesting term. When do profits become windfall, an interesting question. All the oil we have was found by oil companies, not by the government, and the costs of finding and producing it were paid by private enterprise, not the government. I suppose I differ with the president in my emphasis on the private sector.

"But I am very glad to see his attention to those who would be hurt severely by rising oil prices."

Of the mass Cabinet resignations, Carver said, "My concern is that during camp David we had inaction for 12 days. Now we appear to have instability . . . The problems of our cities are certainly not suspended. I hope the president will get on with it quickly."

He wonders if $10 billion is enought for public transportation, "with buses costing almost $100,000 each."

The mayor is tall, yellow-haired, blue-eyed, pin-striped, and socked and shod like the East Coast. No orange or green, no wheat chaff or straw.

In Peoria, needless to say, they read and go to school and make money and love and on doubt cry and rage and carry on much like us.It is one of the provincialisms of the East to Suppose they all ride ox-carts and read Lincoln at night and raise hamsters.

They even have wedding anniversaries. It was the Carvers'20th. They even take their wives out to dinner on such occasions. They were going to Jean-Pierre's where, it is said, the lobsters are reliable. CAPTION: Picture, Antonia Chayes, by Margaret Thomas