With mouth-gaping disbelief I read the much unfounded and disparaging article on lawn mowing {"Why Does It Cost $60 an Hour?" Close to Home, June 7}. I am outraged that Rita Belateche has defamed the reputations and hard work of teen-agers who mow lawns and that The Post published the article.

I am the mother of two sons who do such work, and I can vouch for the fact that the money charged cannot be grossly calculated to the sum of $60 per hour and that the charges are hardly out of line with the costs entailed.

Belateche apparently does not realize the human and material costs involved in mowing. There is maintainance of equipment, including back-up mowers to keep customers' lawns serviced in case of breakdowns. There is the cost of plastic bags and gasoline, not to mention the time involved in purchasing these. There is the effort, which is all the greater when rain causes delays. There is the endurance needed to work in 90-degree-plus weather. In addition to the actual time spent mowing, time is spent sharpening blades and replacing spark plugs and keeping appropriate records for tax purposes.

My sons not only work hard but use their lawn-mowing money to buy, maintain and replace equipment. An inexpensive lawn mower (they discovered) does not stand up for mowing lots of lawns. The cost of a durable mower runs about $700. Usually the purchase of two such mowers is required in one season. This does not leave an exorbitant amount for "goodies."

How awful to denigrate enterprising teen-agers who work hard . When one attempts to mow two or three lawns in an hour, one quickly learns the relationship between hard work and money. To do this on a regular basis, one learns responsibility and commitment. And when one must also put the utmost priority on academic work and homework, one learns to budget time wisely.

-- Patricia A. Young

I am a 13-year-old boy who cuts two or three lawns weekly. The average lawn that I cut is about one-quarter to one-third of an acre.

Rita Belateche says that young people like me are getting paid too much for our hard work. I don't know where she lives or how big her lawn is, but where I live I only get $15 for one lawn, which usually takes about two hours to do.

I get this $15 for cutting the lawn, bagging it and trimming the weeds. (If I don't have to bag or trim, I only charge $10.) I think $15 is a fair price to pay, especially when I have to use my own mower, gas and bags.

I spend my hard-earned money wisely -- on new sneakers, toward Boy Scout Camp or an occasional special item.

If Belateche doesn't think paying $15 for a hard-working boy is worth it, then she can hire a lawn company, or she can do it herself -- it's good exercise!

-- Jason Modzeleski

Having lived in my community for nearly 20 years, I have had the occasion to see many of the neighborhood teens mow lawns during the summer months to earn extra money. The vast majority have wisely used their earnings for college tuition, the purchase of their first car and, yes, even a weekend trip to Ocean City. To disparagingly refer to their efforts by adhering to the preconceived notion that their earnings were "easy to come by, thoughtlessly spent," demonstrates an extraordinary lack of understanding of the responsibilities these young people assumed and learned from performing their summer chores.

-- Charles R. Cuozzo