Our president may call its government an evil empire and, at a political level, the cold war may prevail. But when visitors from the Soviet Union show up in Washington, this city opens its heart.

Jeane P. Robison of the Prince George's town of Colmar Manor tells the story:

"As a volunteer member of International Visitors Information Service, I took 25 Russian merchant seamen from a ship in Baltimore on a seven-hour tour of Washington" on Feb. 13.

"Everywhere we went -- the White House, Arlington Cemetery, the Capitol, the Air and Space Museum -- the Americans we met went out of their way to show our time-honored hospitality, particularly Bob Collins of security at Air and Space . . . who spent an hour giving us a tour . . . .

"The Russians were very warm and friendly; they impressed everyone who met them . . . . If the ordinary people of our two countries can get along so well, why can't our leaders? Everyone involved . . . realized we're just alike basically . . . . "

Even at the White House, Robison noted, "everyone just knocked themselves out" to be hospitable.

Robison said her experience exploded a stereotype, that of ill-dressed Russians: "The men were dressed better than the average American, and the two women cooks were stunning! One was a statuesque blonde in blonde fur hat and jacket, brown ski pants and gorgeous boots! I envied her . . . . " Mother Mary Comforted Them

The death notice in the paper said her name was Mother Mary Drake, but down at D.C. Village, most everybody called her Gramps. Unlike many residents of the city's home for the elderly, Mother Mary had a stream of visitors, drawn among others from her four surviving children, 24 grandchildren, 71 great-grandchildren and 70 great-great grandchildren.

Mother Mary came to Washington from her native South Carolina in 1925 with her now deceased husband, Arthur, a construction worker, and devoted her life to her family and her church, Tysons Temple First Born Church in Southeast Washington. "She never worked out for wages , never," said Yvonne Davis, a granddaughter whose mother died at birth and who was brought up by Mother Mary: "She's the only mother I ever knew."

Mother Mary "had all her mental faculties," often recollecting her youth, and was hearty to the age of 100, but the past five years have seen a gradual downslide, Davis said. On Monday, her great heart gave out at the age of 105. Tribute to a Union Man

The flag was at half staff several days this week atop the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers headquarters on 15th Street NW. It was, a union official said, a tribute to Harry Van Arsdale Jr., a longtime local official of the union in New York and president of the New York City Central Labor Council.