Three times in the past two days, I have heard people comment that they consider it absurd that an actor should be running for president.

They manage to pronounce the word "actor" as if it were the name of a loathsome disease.

Their low regard for actors mystifies me. I have known many actors and found most of them to be decent men and women, sometimes well-educated or at least well-read and sometimes not, but almost always attuned to what the public likes and dislikes.

If an actor is to be barred from consideration simply because of nothing in his previous job experience offers proof of executive skills, what would you say to a surveyor's helper with only six years of schooling? Would you think he'd do well as president?

How about a country bumpkin who was born on a farm so far back in the boonies that we're not sure just where it was? Or another man who received scarcely one year of formal education and had to earn his living by splitting rails and clerking in a country store? Would you prefer a soldier? There have been several in the White House, you know. Also ranchers, farmers and sons of farmers. Do you think farming prepares a man for the responsibilities of high office better than acting does?

Would you say that a boy who led a rebellion against his schoolmaster and later became an accomplished violinist is good presidential material? How about a young man whose attention flitted from a career as an architect to other careers as lawyer, inventor, author and musician? Better yet, evaluate the prospects of a lowly wool carder who bought his freedom from apprenticeship for $30, and than had $4 left with which to launch a new career. a

If you disqualified all the people mentioned so far, you have said "No" to George Washington the apprentice surveyor; Andy Jackson who didn't know for sure where he was born but left little doubt about where he stood; Abraham Lincoln, the clerk railsplitter; soldiers from William Henry Harrison to Zachary Taylor to Dwight D. Eisenhower; John Tyler, to violinist who had been a student rebel; Thomas Jefferson, who was a clever inventor and an able architect in addition to his better known accomplishments; ever so many presidents who farmed or were born on farms; and Millard Fillmore, the apprentice who bought his freedom for $30.

One can continue this exercise by recalling that Henry Truman owned a small haberdashery that he couldn't run properly (even though he later ran the nation rather well); and that Jimmy Carter owned a peanut business that he ran well enough to become wealthy, but has been critized for not running the country well.

It is to be hoped that nobody will bother to remember that Warren G. Harding's presidency was inextricably linked to the Teaport Dome scandals. You'd think an able newspaperman would have much too much sense to get into such a mess, wouldn't you?

There appears to be little need for additional citations. The evidence is clear that you don't have to be Albert Einstein to qualify for the presidency, and that even if you are Albert Einstein there is no assurance you'll be elected president, and if you were elected there is no assurance you would serve with distinction.

I am not greatly concerned about whether a candidate began as a farm boy or a choir boy. What I really want to know is whether the boy merely became older or whether he matured. Did his mind grow as fast as his body? What does he stand for? Is he steadfast or does he change his ideology as readily as his shirt?

Nothing in the foregoing is to be construed as advocacy of Ronald Reagan's candidacy or disparagment of Jimmy Carter's.

If my life depended upon it, I could not tell you now for whom I will vote in November, and I intend to retain an open mind until election day.

All I'm saying at this point is that there is nothing demeaning about being a peanut farmer, an actor or an unschooled backwoodsman.

A candidate's pedigree is of little importance. What voters ought to be looking for is a candidate with integrity and intelligence -- especially when those qualities seem to be in short supply. SWIFT COURIERS

A check was mailed to Shands and Fleming. It was properly addressed to 2120 Florida Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008.

The envelope was delivered to Washington House, 2120 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009. There it was stamped, "Not at Washington House" and placed back into the mail.

Again the Postal Service had a chance to deliver the check to the address on the envelope. Instead, USPS opened the envelope, identified the sender, returned his check to him -- and charged him 40 cents for the extra "service".