Bill Moeller Commentary: A Lost Note to Myself and a Concern About Safety


Before we get into the main part of this column, I have a confession of sorts, and maybe it’ll sound familiar to some of you. 

I always keep a notepad beside my bed because if I have an idea for a column and don’t write it down, I’ll forget it when it comes time to use it. Recently I woke up and — spotting such a note — said to myself, sleepfully, “There’s a great idea!” 

Two or three days later, I wanted to start writing the column but the note disappeared and I still haven’t found it. To tell the truth, I don’t remember enough of what it was about to recreate it.  Now, the problem — in my mind — is asking myself, “Was there actually a note even there or was I hallucinating when I thought I saw it?” 

Is this sort of thing going to happen more frequently as the years pile up further? 

So, what I really want to write about today is the field of concrete cones I see whenever I take my recyclables to the transfer station in Centralia. I get there by first driving south on Yew Street to its end and then switching to Long Road and turning onto South Street until it ends with Tower Avenue and my destination. 

It’s at the end of Yew Street that one begins to see a multitude of conically shaped piles consisting of jagged concrete chunks.

From a distance, some of them appear 10 or more feet high, scattered over a large part of an area where homes once existed before they were torn down or moved elsewhere to make room for the large part of ground that would become extremely valuable once the anticipated Fred Meyer store was up and running.

Well, we all know what happened to that dream.

While driving along that route, recently, I started counting those piles and reached an unofficial total of 25. I’m only assuming that they may be intended for use if and when a ramp making a connection with an off-ramp from I-5 is someday needed? 

Until then, they sit there, a target for any youth to challenge others in a race to climb to the top of one of those cones.

If I remember correctly, I was once a young boy myself and, as such, prone to accept opportunities to show off. Those few tall piles of concrete pieces would have filled that desire nicely. 

Today, if just one of those jagged chunks might become loose and result in a bloody kneecap, the city could expect legal action from the parents and who wants to try to imagine what action against the city would ensue if the most extreme accident might result? 

If such a situation were to occur, could the city expect its insurance to pay for any demands made by the victim’s parents? In my mind, each of those piles of concrete and any other materials could be considered to be an attractive nuisance at best and a deadly attraction at worst. 

If President Reagan could say, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” I can say, “Centralia, clean up that dangerous mess.”

That said, the emerging signs of spring are enough to make a person turn to more positive matters. 

A day that was “mostly dry” last week enabled me to be the first person on our “block” to bring out the lawnmower and cut the grass back down to size. 

My planting of peas is emerging from underground and will soon be climbing up a trellis made of twine.

But the seeds of other vegetables and flowers planted in my small greenhouse have — as I write this — not shown their heads in my homemade starting cups. But while it is nice to have this escape from wars and all other crazy things we’ve had to deal with this year, why should we expect spring to be predictable? 


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