The "Dear Friend" letter usually begins with a line that says something on the order of, "Hello, my name is Junius Q. Thistlewhist." It goes on to say that Junius used to work at a common trade, but "found that inflation was eating up most of my income."

After making this startling discovery, Junius set out to find a way to make more money - and he found it. In fact, he did so well that he now wants to share his secret with you.

Mind you, this is no pie-in-the-sky dream, he tells you. You're not going to make millions. Just $25,000 (in some versions of the letter it's $35,000) in the next four weeks.

This is not a chain letter scheme, he says. It is not ilegal. It is a "brand new, dynamic and legitimate opportunity, GUARANTEED" to bring you a nice sum of money "that bring you a nice sum of money "that you can use for trips, a new car or boat, furniture, clothes, whatever you like. Spend only 30 minutes on this new plan and then sit back and watch the bags of dollars come rolling in."

What must you do to get started on the road to riches? Just send $10 in cash or money order and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to good old Junius, and he will reveal the secret to you.

In each of the offers I've checked on thus far, what you get in return is advice on how to send out letters just like the one Junius used to persuade you to send him $10. In other words, you get a hunting license to go out and try to find your own suckers.

THE VOICE WITH THE SMILE

In a recent column I complained about people, especially store employees, who do not respond when spoken to. In one instance, a woman from whom I had ordered an item went into a back room and never reappeared. I found out later that she had gone off duty.

Gloria A. Noon of Annandale tells me she frequently places overseas calls for her employer, and during her seven years with the firm has noticed that even the Bell System, whcih is proud of its employee training programs, has been having its problems.

Gloria offers this example: In placing an overseas call, she "gave the operator all the information, including the routing, which I know by memory, and then waited and waited and waited. After about 10 minutes, a voice said, 'Operator,' and I said thank you but I've already placed my call through another operator." There was a brief pause, then the new operator said, "You'd better give me the information again. The other operator has gone off duty."

I can just picture your reaction to that, Glori. Some days I, too, get the feeling that if I called heaven to ask for help, Somebody Up There would put me on hold.

HOW'S THAT AGAIN?

Joseph S. Coulter of Alexandria has sent me a clipping of a report from Rhode Island that we published on May 10.The article was about Indian land claims that affect states from Maine to Louisiana.

A reference to the Narragansett tribe said, "Those who call themselves Narragansetts today are ancestors not only to the Indians but also to whites and American slaves who intermarried with them."

Today's Narragansetts and the man who wrote about them may someday become ancestors, but for the moment I think they can more accurately be described as decendants.

KANN'S REVISITED

An anonymous postcard says: "About that busted window in Kann's indicating vagrants were inside and might start a fire: If both you and Harry Wender saw it and didn't report it, you're both to blame."

I said so, pal. I said criticism could be leveled at all of us - thousands of us - who had failed to report the broken window and the glass on the sidewalk. Read the item again.

P.S.: Harry says he didn't report it "because the PADC (Pennyslavania Avenue Development Corp.) had workmen on the scene who had begun to remove the aluminum facing from the building. I had to assume that the workmen and PADC officials on the scene were not blind, and that they had aready seen what was visible to passers-by."

I didn't report it because I'm just plain stupid. What else is new?

THESE MODERN TIMES

just back from a wine-tasting, Joe Boyle was telling me about California's governor, and made a jocular reference to Linda Ronstadt.

"Careful, lad," I said. "You may be talking about our future First Lady."

"You mean First Mistress?" he asked innocently.