Bill Moeller Commentary: ‘Bits and Pieces’ Falling Off My Desk


People sometimes ask me how I’ve found something to write about all these years. Regardless of logic, the secret answer is just trying to keep enough room on the desk to hold a cup of coffee. 

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I learned early in this trade to write column ideas on handy scraps of paper. The problem arises when I try to figure out what I was thinking about when I did so. TV ads are another source. I saw one about 20 minutes before I started writing this piece. An ad for automobile tires stated that if a person buys three tires, then a fourth tire could be bought for $1. Now most people would know that if a person bought a number of items of whatever, the price per item might be reduced. Why try to make the buyer think that they’re getting a terrific deal by buying four items instead of three? Wouldn’t most people think that if the price of the fourth tire is practically nothing then each of the first three tires were grossly overpriced? Who would be the most stupid, the buyer or the seller? I guess we’re all just used to this sales approach.

Here’s a note I jotted down the other day: “Something is always more interesting if it’s forbidden.” Now, that’s hardly news to anyone, so why did I think it was worth writing down?

Here’s something that happened over 70 years ago in Korea that I’ve never confessed until now. Maybe watching too much news about today’s war brought this to the surface?

I think that few people who snore are really aware of it. After all, they’re asleep at the time the noise is emitted. I was distressed when I learned that I snored so loud — even in a foxhole — that other members of my squad believed that the noise pointed out our position and were considering whether or not to shoot me if any action developed — just to protect our location.

I’ve had three wives who also objected to my nocturnal serenades but thank goodness they didn’t consider anything so drastic, or at least didn’t say so. 

I’ve been thankful ever since that I wound up in a hospital in Japan instead of being a slightly logical casualty from my own side.

On a lighter note, when I wrote about old cars I’ve owned, I wanted to add a story about my first car — a 1932 Bantam —  but there just wasn’t space to squeeze it into the column. I had made some repairs before I drove it to a youth gathering at Lutherland on Lake Killarney. Upon arrival, I discovered that I hadn’t tightened the bolt holding the fan in place tight enough. The fan, therefore, had moved forward and chewed a hole in the car’s radiator and — by the time I arrived — there was no water left in the radiator.

As young people sometimes do, my cousin, Chuck, and I thought of what was — to us — a brilliant solution for getting home. We borrowed two large containers and filled them with water. Chuck then straddled the narrow hood — as if he was riding a horse — and slowly poured water into the sick radiator as we limped back to Tacoma. I had to twist my body to look around him, of course. Would you believe that we made it back home — about 15 miles — without a single cop seeing or stopping us? Hey, I don’t make these things up.   

I figured I’d end this column with a gripe or two, but in my search in a folder I keep for just such situations, I came across an interesting poll that was conducted back when Brian Baird was still our congressional representative back in the other Washington. Back then, 66% of those polled believed there was a need to reform the current health care system, 67% believed insurance discrimination against preexisting conditions should be abolished and 68% supported the right to choose if an optional public health insurance should be available for those who are currently unable to afford health care. What are our current Third Congressional District candidates espousing in their speeches about our health care options in this age of COVID?

OK, I’ve got a bit more desk space now but not much.


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