Last Friday, I was driving east on Harrison Avenue in Centralia. After I passed under Interstate 5, I glanced to my right and noticed a couple of booths being set up for Centralia’s farmers market.
A couple of thoughts went through my mind, one being that I felt sorry for them because I thought the rain was going to cut the customers’ presence short. The other concern was one I expressed to one of the booths some time ago, that I felt it was a bad location for the market.
The response was something on the order of, “but so many people see us as they drive past us on I-5’s exit lane.”
“True,” I thought, but most people — if they intend to purchase anything — would probably think, “great, we’ll pick up some on our way home.”
But “on the way home” is when it becomes clear that it’s difficult for someone unfamiliar with the area to know that if one is returning from downtown by driving west on Harrison, it’s impossible to make a left turn toward the market once you’re past the High Street intersection. So they drive home empty handed. People who came off the freeway to shop at the outlet stores west of the freeway have almost as bad a time finding where to turn into the market.
I can’t help but compare that location to the one that was used for so many years, Pine Street between Tower Avenue and the train station.
People who were already walking in town to shop at the antique stores — which were a little more active in those days — most naturally would take the turn into the market.
I don’t know the real reason why they moved away. Some say it was urged by the city, but I can’t believe that.
The other possibility was that so many people wanted spaces for whatever it was they were selling that a larger space was needed and all that really wound up doing was to bounce the market around to various locations, none of them having the charm of the original Pine Street location.
And, if lack of space was the reason for the move, then Centralia could have learned a lesson from Chehalis, which blocks off Boistfort Street from Market Boulevard to Pacific Avenue. Any inconvenience that might have arisen from that is thankfully ignored.
So my suggestion or request is for Centralia to bring the farmers market back to downtown and, with Pine Street now being an outside dining area, maybe we could follow Chehalis’ example and liven up downtown even more by perhaps using Magnolia Street or Maple Street between Tower and Pearl streets.
The stores in those spaces might just welcome the added foot traffic.
Turning to an entirely different subject, I’m now at the same age when a better writer than myself, Gordon Aadland, sent the last of his columns to this newspaper.
Since the first column I submitted to The Chronicle was on March 20, 2008, I’ve handed in a little over 700 columns containing at least 600 words each. That’s the equivalent of several best-selling books.
I’m not saying this in an attempt to squeeze out an increase in the monthly paycheck. I almost feel overpaid due to the fun I’ve sometimes had. No, it’s just an honest appraisal of what the future has in store for any 93-year-old dreamer. Friends and relatives are well aware of my increasing inability to come up with simple words during conversations.
That goes for writing columns as well, but I can always save face by leaving a blank space and returning to it later, a plus one can’t do in face-to-face conversations.
This isn’t a unique “side effect” of aging. Heck, at 93 and having survived both active combat and the side effects of the ‘60s, I’m lucky to remember my own name.
Time marches on but it does end. So shall we see what tomorrow — or hopefully next year — brings?
Bill Moeller is a former entertainer, mayor, bookstore owner, city council member, paratrooper and pilot living in Centralia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.