Bill Moeller Commentary: The Beginning of a Life


I woke up recently thinking about an event that occurred over 80 years ago. 

If I can remember correctly, it was when I was in about the fourth grade at the small parochial school I attended. It was during the week before Mother’s Day and we were told to write something about our mothers. 

For some unknown reason, I started to write a poem about mine, ending with something like “There will never be another person like my loving mother.” 

Some time after I turned it in, the teacher asked me what magazine I had copied it from!

He — and we had nothing but male teachers at that time — evidently told my parents about it because I received the same sort of question from my father, along with a kindly lecture about always telling the truth from my uncle, a Lutheran pastor. 

I’ve sometimes wished, over the years, that I had made a copy of that poem because it might have been pretty good. 

But, we’ll never know, will we?

I came to the conclusion that the reason I recalled that episode is because I had only recently come across a startling bit of information. After I was required to leave my home on Washington Street, I hadn’t realized that I inadvertently missed taking a box or two with me. 

In one of those boxes was a small book with some of its pages filled out by my parents with information about me from the day I was born. 

It was interesting — to say the least — to find out such information as the fact that I weighed 6 pounds and 14 ounces when I joined the rest of the world as a living, breathing part of it. I was christened at the age of 22 days.

I was pleased to learn that I was able to draw a series of circles on a piece of paper when I was only 2 ½ years of age and that, by the age of three, I could produce faces that looked like they originated on another planet. 

According to the information supplied by the book, I smiled when I was only six weeks old and on Dec. 16 displayed my first tooth. 

My aunt, Ruth, is the one who spotted it, and I hope I didn’t bite too hard. I didn’t crawl on my own until I was just a few days past my first birthday. 

My first toy was a rattle, given to me by my grandmother at the event honoring that first annual event. 

A family friend gave me one dollar, matched by another from my paternal grandmother and material for an overcoat from my maternal one. There is no record of my blowing out a candle to commemorate the event.

The book does not reveal exactly when I was able to call my paternal grandmother “Ma Ma,” which was easy because that’s what my father called her: “Ma.” My mother became “Na Na,” and — of course — my daddy was “Da Da” to me. Let’s hope that too many birthdays hadn’t elapsed by then.

Such is the beginning of life for one William A. Moeller, who in later life was given a military identification number instead of a name. This was followed by the many and varied activities I’ve already shared with you in these columns.

But, before I forget it,  closed captioning on my TV set recently informed us that, after a recent forest fire, thousands of bakers were destroyed — just when I felt a craving to buy a maple bar.


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