Grandma and Grandpa Beaver, an elderly couple in Columbus, Ohio, were having a tough time getting by on their $381-a-month Social Security check several years ago. So they went into business for themselves: selling marijuana and LSD.

"That's the only way I could make any money," Luther Beaver, 74, said yesterday from his home.

He and his 63-year-old wife Audrey, known affectionately as Grandma and Grandpa by their spaced-out school-age customers, were arrested on Christmas Eve 1980 and spent two months in jail after pleading guilty to possession of drugs. They were released this month on probation by Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Clifford Rader.

"They were widely known in the area as pushers," prosecuting attorney George Ellis said yesterday. "They got kids from 50 miles away."

The customers purchased the drugs at the Beavers' rural home just outside Columbus. "They had a fairly steady flow of customers," said Ellis, who could not estimate how much money the Beavers eventually earned. "They weren't sophisticated drug dealers," he said. "I mean, they weren't driving Mercedes."

The elderly couple was not very knowledgeable about drugs, he said, "But they knew they were in demand."

The Beavers were busted after an undercover policeman purchased drugs at the home. Armed with a search warrant, authorities turned up more than 100 "hits" of LSD, 100 methaqualone tablets, known as "sopers," and several pounds of marijuana. Ellis said the couple refused to divulge the source of the contraband.

"We didn't throw the book at them," he added. "I felt sorry for them. They're not your normal criminals."

The judge cautioned the couple to have no further contact with illegal drugs.

"I'd hate to see Grandma and Grandpa picked up again," sighed Ellis. This time, "they'd be gone for a while."

But Luther Beaver said yesterday that he and his wife were living on their pensions and doing fine, thank you. He didn't want to talk about the bust.

And what was he doing now?

"Sittin' in a chair asleep," he said.