Bill Moeller Commentary: Looking Ahead to Yesterday: Nothing Ever Stays the Same


I imagine many among us are tired of hearing old-timers reminisce about living through the Great Depression of the 1930s.

There aren’t many of us left, and we were still children when good times began to appear.

So I won’t go into the topic of buying a loaf of bread for 5 cents or scraping by on a salary of $60 per month.

We can ignore what happened in the past.

What worries me is that most of us who call ourselves Americans ignore what is bound to happen sometime in the future.

I don’t expect to be above ground when it happens, but we can’t ignore the fact that what goes up must come down. It always has and it always will.  Nothing stays the same. These  are more than old adages. They’re facts of life.

It bothers me when I read about Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos who spend not millions but billions of dollars in a race for the sky.

I think of the number of doctors who could be given free rides through medical school, the number of homeless who could live under cover, the number of streets and roads that could be improved with the amounts of money spent on vanities.

Why it’s almost enough to make a person reconsider communism, not the way it is today, of course, but the way it was conceived to be at the beginning.

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” was the original battle cry.

It sounds almost Biblical, doesn’t it? 

Today’s battle cry is “get as much as you can before someone else gets it and to heck with anyone else.”

Another thing that troubles me at times lately is the trend to remove or destroy just about all of the statues of generals and other officers who fought on the losing side during the Civil War.

The Stonewall Jackson monument is one of the more recent ones. In my mind, those statues were erected as tribute to the man, not the cause.

True, most of the subjects probably did agree with their cause but — to me — that’s not the reason they were honored. They were honored because of their ability to carry out the orders of those who ranked higher on the totem pole.

Most of them suffered when the smoke finally blew away. General Robert E. Lee lost just about all of his property. It’s where Arlington National Cemetery sits today.

Enough of that.

I didn’t mean to be carried away, so let’s turn to the lighter side of life.

It’s my suspicion that, in some cases, memory loss can be an advantage. For instance, on Saturday nights I can watch a summer rerun on TV such as the British, 90-minute program “Vera” on channel nine and enjoy it just as much as the first time I saw it because it’s so well done and — I must admit — I usually can’t remember how it ended the first time I viewed it.

The only drawback is that another favorite British program, “As Time Goes By,” is broadcast on the other public television station at the same time.

I’ve watched those reruns so many times over the year, though, that I can speak the lines before the actors can. As I’ve mentioned before, time — and a desire to Americanize more episodes with the introduction of canned laughter — caused a large loss of its charm.

So, as a closer, let me remind you that when you whistle or hum songs from old Broadway musicals, those who don’t recognize the melody are the losers.


Bill Moeller is a former entertainer, mayor, bookstore owner, city council member, paratrooper and pilot living in Centralia. He can be reached at