Bill Moeller Commentary: The Years Sneak up on Us, Don’t They?


I get the feeling that many — if not most — of us can share that same thought. 

What I’m referring to is that, with this column, I complete 13 years of writing it without missing a single week! 

Who would have thought when former Chronicle editor Michael Wagar and I shook hands over a proposal he had just made to me that it would have lasted this long? Or even that I would have lasted this long?

I’m sure he felt that since I had finished four years as Centralia’s Mayor under the city commission form of government and 12 years after that on the city council form of government that succeeded it, my field of interest would center around political matters.  I suppose that was my intention as well, but there’s a limit to the number of times you can gripe about the same things without repeating yourself all too frequently. 

My interest slowly slipped into an urge to focus on other matters, a good number, if not most of them, on local happenings mixed with a hopefully acceptable amount of griping about them, of course. 

My initial thought in writing a “commemorative” column had been to revisit some of the historic topics but, after 13 years with 52 columns per year, that means 676 columns! And with each of them consisting of a minimum of 600 words, it adds up to a lot to sift through, but I’ll try, maybe with the help of my muse, “Erroneous”? 

Occasionally I’m asked — as are all of us writing these weekly pieces — where I get the ideas for the columns week after week. Frankly, it puzzles me, too. I once asked my friend — and the dean to all of us scribblers of weekly trifles — Gordon Aadland, the same question, and he replied in a manner that reflected an old TV program. 

Remember “Kung Fu?”

He said, “Grasshopper, it is a useful, if slightly larcenous, practice to employ the wisdom of others to fill up the space in a column. The check at the end of the month wipes clean all sin involved. Selah.” 

And so, the short answer is that I rely on you and life that spins around us. And it seems that we’ve endured quite a bit of “spinning” lately.

It took three columns to tell as much as I could learn about the criminals who once stole quite a bit of money and jewelry from a local bank by renting the office next to the bank and then tunneling to a spot underneath the safe deposit room where, one night, they used explosives to gain access. Nobody heard it!

I can’t help remembering that there was once a young man who hid in the woods northeast of Centralia’s Logan District and existed by stealing food from nearby residents. He was finally captured, and some people claimed he was shot in the back as he tried to run away. 

The police insisted he wasn’t.

I wrote about a soldier from Lewis County who received the Congressional Medal of Honor only to learn afterward that he wasn’t the only one, that there were two who won the highest honor a military person can achieve. 

Writing those columns then made me feel embarrassed that I’d devoted three columns to my own last night in Korea when I was alone because frostbitten feet prohibited me from keeping up with the rest of our outfit as we retreated from an attack at night. 

I can already see where I won’t be able to fulfill my wish to provide more highlights — there were just so many of them.

And, most of all, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the comments, notes and calls from you readers who take your time to tell me that I’ve brought back a memory and, perhaps, a smile. 

Thank goodness you are in the majority. And, thank you.


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