IN AN OBVIOUSLY crazed moment of self-indulgence this morning, Bill Gold is telling his countless thousands of readers that he has reached the end of The District Line and "will write only occasionally" from now on. Some friend he turned out to be -- just like that, after a mere 34 1/2-year run, Bill all of a sudden decides he wants out of daily newspapering, and never mind that he's packing in Washington tradition. Silence may be golden, but Gold silent?

No way. Bill Gold has never been at a loss for words -- and he'll surely have a few harsh ones for us when he sees this, because he's been adamant that no fuss be made. But we owe as much to all the Washingtonians --natives as well as those who became naturalized, permanent citizens of this community thanks to Bill's potpourri of news, views and vignettes about our town. And then there are all those children -- and their children -- who know what Bill Gold has meant to the health care of young people in Greater Washington. We lost count when he headed for his second $1 million, but Bill's collections for Children's Hospital have made him one of the greatest individual fund-raisers ever in our town.

In this way, as in his daily reports, Bill has always succeeded in bringing out the best in people from every corner of the region, from offices, clubs, youth organizations, schools and civic groups. But as we indicated, he gets irritated when showered with deserved praise and moves quickly to shift the spotlight.This morning he does exactly that, with a warm introduction for Bob Levey, who begins a new local column for The Post on Monday.

It's not farewell to Bill for us, anyway, because we know better than to believe that this incurable newspaperman won't be on the phone or hovering over the city desk with his notes from an accident, fire or any other local news event he comes across. But for his unflagging love of the town and for sharing it with us and you, as a friend and as a pro, our thanks go to Bill Gold.