NOW THAT it's too late to matter, Mafia don Joe Bonanno keeps the lids chained on the tops of garbage cans outside his home in Tuscon, Ariz.

It was his garbage which convicted the crime family czar earlier this month of conspiring to interfere with a grand jury probe.

For five years, law enforcement officers collected his trash and found it to be a treasure trove that has led to ongoing investigations and indictments that could still be putting people behind bars a decade from now.

Because Bonanno didn't use plastic trash bags, the police had to bring used brown paper grocery sacks from their own homes. Then, to keep Bonanno from realizing that his own garbage was disappearing, the officers routinely foraged through other garbage cans, duplicating the household debris in Bonanno's cans and making a switch.

When the credits roll on made-for-television movies these days, watch for the name Chip Cronkite.

CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite's son has managed to beat that "Catch 22" cinematographers union system which says you can't join until you get screen credits and you can't get screen credits until you've joined.

Chip worked on a few clinkers and has just completed "A Private Battle," writer Cornelius Ryan's story of his fatal fight against cancer.

The Younger Cronkite also has been working on a new film with one of his father's favorite 1950's sexpots, Gloria Grahame.

Walter is all excited. "She's just the kind of mean-looking blond he goes for," says his wife Betsy.

Walter may be retiring, but his wife says he has not lost the newsman's urge to go where the fire engines are.

"I just put a new $50 catch on one of my front windows," she says. "Walter wore it out, throwing it open when the fire trucks go by, yelling "Where's the fire? Is it a fire I should be covering?'"

Instead of wanted posters, how about 200,000 T-shirts to circulate to Interpol with a likeness of fugitive arms dealer Frank Terpil?

Terpil's buddy, deposed Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, once decided he'd like the entire populace to wear shirts' imprinted with their leader's picture. lAs a gag, Amin had Terpil's face incorporated into a border design.

At least one Washingtonian owns one of the shirts and the others are believed to be in storage.

Missing Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa's widow weighed only 82 pounds when she died recently of a hear ailment, according to a friend who attended the funeral. "She died a little bit every day that she lived after her husband disappeared."

Helen Hite, the 6-foot-tall American model who learned to use high-powered rifles, automatic weapons and side arms after she was hired as a lady-in-waiting and bodyguard to King Hussein's divorced wife, Princess Muna, is now working in the couture salon here at Neiman-Marcus.

Minerals heiress Sophie Engelhard doesn't have a name as instantly recognizable as Gloria Vanderbilt or Charlotte Ford. But the hard-working, serious-minded Sophie is entering the fashion world with a boutique to open here for working women.

Nancy Reagan's "social moth" chum, Jerome Zipkin, has been flitting through the Greek Isles, giving the Livanos shipping family the pleasure of his company.

The American Civil Liberties Union is going to help publishers and authors fight future cases that come under the recent Supreme Court ruling that awarded the CIA all former agent Frank Snepp's earnings on his unauthorized book on Viet Nam, "Decent Interval," because he did not submit it for censorship. A 20-member committee will be named later this fall to review CIA censorship says Morton Halperin, with a "distinguished figure from the publishing world" as chairman. Best bet for the job is Robert L. Bernstein, president of Random House, which published the Snepp book.