Like many people who come to Washington, I was a transient, expecting to live here a few years and move on. Instead I stayed, always aware of the constant change of people, ideas and structures. It was nice to know, then, that amid the constant flow something stayed the same -- the monuments, the government buildings, the cathedral.

I was saddened then that one of these ageless features, Garfinckel's, was going too. To me it meant we were losing something nice, reliable and familiar. And do we have to lose it? Do we want so much change and novelty that we can't hold onto a few old things of beauty?

People these past few days have expressed shock that a firm so much a part of the city and of people's lives in other cities could disappear almost overnight. Perhaps it was because we no longer cared, we stopped seeing it as something special and as something worthy to be kept. I think we will be the poorer for its loss. JUDITH G. WHEELUS Chevy Chase

Regarding John Thompson's decision to remain at Georgetown: thank God! I could not have borne losing him and Garfinckel's in the same week. LARUE HABERCOM DUFFY Hagerstown