Bill Moeller Commentary: Am I Getting Out of Step?


I don’t know if this is in my regular category of “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” or “Stupidity — once learned — is hard to forget.”

In any event, I’m going to bore you with the latest episode in “The Life of Moeller.” 

It began with the annual sprucing up of the Seminary Hill Natural Area cleanup event that I would never, ever bypass. In recent years, my job has been simple: cut down as many blackberry stems as I could reach between the parking lot and Locust Street.

It’s simple enough. And this year it was made even simpler for me: cut only those branches that can be reached from the parking lot side of the patch.

I was feeling a slight loss of balance as I went along trimming, but I stuck to the “ground rules.” So why in the world would I try to climb over one of those 2-and-a-half foot boulders at the bottom of the slope in order to reach one particularly conspicuous vine?

Moeller stupidity may have had something to do with it.

The upshot of the experience is that I became lodged between the rock I tried to climb over and the rear end of a vehicle until two or three men were able to untangle me and get me back on my feet again. 

I thought it might be a good time to take a break for a cup of coffee and a sandwich before I returned to finish the job. But my hip was beginning to hurt, so I decided it might be a good time to call it a day and go home.

But I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that keep me from attending the annual spring concert by the Northwest Wind Symphony that night. To aid in my recovery, a friend (a former nurse) advised me to use a heat pad on my hip. The only problem is that the heat pad I have has degenerated over the years into a slightly warming pad.

I’ve always thought that an orchestra that goes to the trouble of rehearsing and performing for an audience deserves some respect, so I’ve always customarily spruced up a little more than I would have done to attend, say, a baseball game.

I arrived early because I suspected the usual full house would be achieved for this first concert in nearly two years and I wanted to be sure I got a ticket. I shouldn’t have hurried. I don’t know an accurate figure but I estimated that approximately only a third of the seats were occupied by the time the concert began.

And it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was the only man in the audience who bothered to wear a tie. That was balanced by the young man sitting three rows in front of me, wearing a baseball cap during the entire performance — turned around backwards, of course.

That Saturday concert was, at minimum, one of the best that I can remember the orchestra performing.

In case you aren’t familiar with the way they operate, the directors — Dan Schmidt and Dan Judd — decide what will be performed and then send the appropriate music for each selection to each musician.

They diligently study and rehearse their parts by themselves. The only rehearsal of the entire orchestra together is done on the day of performance.

To be able to do this is an outstanding demonstration of the quality of the individuals who have taken the time to entertain us. I hope I won’t be the only man wearing a tie and a sports coat at the next performance? 

Vive La Northwest Wind Symphony!


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