Bill Moeller Commentary: Random Thoughts on Life


I recently finished writing a column for this space, but when I had a good night’s sleep to think about it, I decided to just stash it away in my old World War II vintage Army file cabinet and let it rest for a while.

It was a defense of an old radio program, “Amos ‘n’ Andy,” where two white radio actors portrayed  African Americans. But, right now, there is enough strife and disagreement going on without me adding to it.

So I went to my files and came up with a satisfying group of lighter tidbits to fill this space.

It’s not that I have a closed mind about all the problems we face today — as you know I mention them frequently — it’s just that there’s a time to stop and take a deep breath once in a while.

For instance, are you old enough to remember when airlines served a full delicious meal during flights? 

That degenerated into a small bag of peanuts, but the price of a ticket never went down. It’s been a few years since I last flew anywhere, so I can’t be sure even that standard has been maintained. In fact, it’s been a long time since I flew as a private pilot too, but it was one of my favorite pasttimes while it lasted.

And it added a different perspective, thank heavens, to jumping out of a plane behind the enemy lines in Korea. As I like to brag, it was just a short time before my 70th birthday when I finally achieved a goal I sought from the age of nine — my own pilot’s license.

It’s probably a good — or at least, fortunate — thing that it wasn’t renewed later because I was guilty of one or two (all right, maybe three) lapses in proper piloting. One was lowering the flaps for a better landing and then, after sitting around on the ground for a while, forgetting to raise them for a takeoff. 

It can be disconcerting when an airplane won’t rise as quickly as it is supposed to. A medical event saved me from being able to renew the license.

Another notation was when I had one of those “4 a.m. flashes” of supposed brilliance recently that I will graciously share with you now.  First, a question: Do you know what the cities of Centralia and Chehalis really need within their city limits?  My “4 a.m.” answer was “empty lots” to play in.

There are few — if any — of them left these days and property values and even city planners have diminished them and, ultimately, they will soon be reduced to zero.

Empty lots can be a charm and a blessing, I thought. When the Moeller family lived on F Street in Centralia, there was a vacant lot across the street from us, right next to the house where Merce Cunningham grew up. It was too small for a baseball field but our dog, “Lady,” made use of it on many occasions. It’s no longer vacant today.

Another topic of information — there’s a T-shirt that has the message, “I may be getting old, but I did get to see all the cool bands.” I didn’t get to see those bands but I did get to spend a day and a half at the rock festival — Sky River IV — near Washougal in the early 70s. I was older than most of the crowd in the audience but the relaxation of either sitting upright or laying back on a grassy slope with the smell of a now legal substance wafting through the air established the memory of a feeling I’ll never be able to reproduce.

Looking back, so many actions that were considered decadent or illegal then have become accepted in the intervening years. It’s not quite the same, though, is it?

Here’s a question that bugs me: If a football team kicks the ball on fourth down but a speedy lineman runs and catches it, does it count the same as a completed pass?


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