FORMER PRESIDENT Richard M. Nixon caught the 9 p.m. shuttle back to New York after a party at the Soviet embassy here last week.

With his Secret Service bodyguards, he boarded the flight after everyone was in their seats and sat at the front of the plane.

The other passengers were very much aware that he was on board.

Upon landing, one of the stewardesses announced over the loudspeaker that someone had forgotten to pay for his ticket.

"Would the gentleman who forgot to give us his check or credit card please identify himself?" she asked.

From the back of the plane someone called out that old pre-Watergate slogan:

"Nixon's the one!"

The owners of the Brentwood Country Mart where the future First Lady sometimes shops for groceries, near her Pacific Palisades home, can attest to her reputation for thriftiness.

Like everyone else, they say, she clips cents off coupons and brings them with her to redeem.

Hamilton Jordan put on a business suit and tie, tucked his notes under his arm and went out for a meeting with unidentified "businessmen" last week.

Those close to him say that he is dickering to sell his memoirs. "He needs the money to pay all those legal bills," one source said last week, referring to the attorney fees he ran up while defending himself against cocaine-sniffing allegations. "That's the only way he has to raise it."

Another friend says that Jordan is asking $100,000 advance for his memoirs. They were believed to have been sold at one point last week but the negotiations bogged down.

Jordan's book will be based on those hard-bound memos about which he has always bragged. He claimed to have made only two copies of really important memos. One went to the President. The second, which others were allowed to read, was always retained by Jordan himself in a notebook.

Prison guards who keep watch over former Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel had better watch what they say and do. Claiming that they have been "going out of their way" to deliberately "humiliate" him as a "political prisoner," Mandel has been keeping a daily diary which is being turned over to literary agents for a planned expose.