Bill Moeller Commentary: An Unwarranted Experience


It’s been at least 22 years since I knew the pleasure of flying back to the airport and feeling the wheels touch down on the runway … smoothly. This, after having glanced down at the ground for an hour or so while flying on a perfect day of sunshine — with an occasional cloud or two to skirt around. 

While it’s been nearly a quarter of a century since I’ve experienced such a delight, that same euphoria did not exist when I “touched down” in a somewhat lower landing episode last week. 

I had just retired my small pickup truck, the one seen around town with all the stickers on the back, and purchased a very satisfactory vehicle from Ken’s Bi-Right Motors on West Main Street. 

I returned to pick up some keys I had accidentally left there during the transaction and parked the “new” vehicle next to the curb. After that, I returned to the driver’s side of the “new” vehicle and something stopped my right foot from moving forward, whereupon I lost my balance and proceeded to fall forward and — apparently — tried to stop my fall by pushing my face into the concrete street!

A large quantity of a red substance immediately appeared and showed no real intention of stopping. Ken supplied a piece of cloth to ebb the flow and then more of them to stop the flow. I tried to pretend I was OK until the rags began to be filled and then I decided to agree to calling for an ambulance. I looked up and found they were already there. 

I think the fire department vehicle was first on the scene but, legally, a private ambulance service, which had also arrived, has the right to take the patient to the hospital, and that was done quickly. 

As you can imagine, I was shuffled from one medical camera-type device to another, wearing the typical hospital attire that isn’t fastened in the back. I didn’t complain, knowing there’s nothing those nurses haven’t already seen and also knowing that everything done was for my benefit. 

I don’t want to underestimate any of the action taken on my account, traveling from one hospital function to another for several hours. 

Eventually the bleeding was lessened to a mere trickle and, by sometime between 10 and 11 o’clock, I was released and taken outside where a large firetruck was waiting and I wasn’t shuffled onto a stretcher! Instead, I was escorted to the front of the vehicle and allowed to view the world from a real firetruck as I was driven home to my front door. The driver was Chase McCarthy with Rick Leboeuf in one of the back seats. 

I hoped that their presence on the scene wouldn’t result in any problems or reprimands for using a city vehicle for the purpose of assisting a private person. But as they drove me home, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe some of the actions I may have made back when I was the Centralia fire commissioner along with being police commissioner, in addition to that of mayor (elected by a four vote majority) might provide a clue? That, and perhaps those actions of 40 years ago, might have upgraded my status from old codger to former team member, resulting in this very special, supportive escort home? 

It’s acts of kindness, like this one, that make life worth living in our chaotic world.


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