Bill Moeller Commentary: Down and Up — or Is it Up and Down?


It’s strange, but pleasant, when you can change a feeling of darned near total despair into one at the other end of the spectrum, isn’t it? 

I happen to be writing about a personal experience, in case you hadn’t already figured that out.

My low point came last Thursday when I decided that it was time to test my stamina and ability to make my way to the top of the Seminary Hill Natural Area.

It’s something that never gave me any problem before, but then, if you’ve read any of these columns for the past six months or so, you’ll know that this 94-year-old body has suffered just about every possible painful — but curable — injury and has, indeed, become experienced in the joys of maturation.     

So how far was I able to hike up the trail? Well, it’s embarrassing and darn near painful to have to relate to you that the total distance I walked, before I turned around, was from the parking lot to almost the end of the stair-like construction of old railroad ties. 

If you’ve been there you’ll know that a person isn’t even at the start of the trails themselves at that point.  That’s the “downer.”

The incident changed to an “upper” the next day when my son Matthew and I did what we do nearly every year. We went to the fair.

It was there that it dawned on me that we didn’t need to walk at any speed other than “our own speed” and that when my daughter and her husband, Karl, would soon join us from Georgia, maybe we could all try, at our own pace, to once more make it to the top of the trail.

By the way, that vertical distance is about 300 feet — an achievable distance at one’s own slow pace.

So this visit to the fair highlighted the fact that I walked the entire day without having to pause and find a bench or something to rest on. In fact, we only sat down to rest just before we went into the local history building, our usual final stop on the fairgrounds.

That was where we were asked if we remembered when the local disk jockey sat on top of a tall tower to broadcast his shows? This stunt was to draw attention in our local area to the Worlds Fair about to start in Seattle. You do remember that, don’t you?

And now, getting back to the fair, it seemed like a different fair to me because — first of all — there were many more outdoor booths than I remembered ever having seen there. And there seemed to be fewer of them in the main building underneath the stands.

By the way, I particularly enjoyed the art section this year. It must have been difficult for the judges to do their judging. And then in the area of creative quilts there was one in particular that caught our eye and our vote, and not because it was the best one — but merely because it consisted entirely of black cats and it got our votes as a tribute to my cat, Sam.

One thing we did not do was something I started enjoying back when I was still in grade school and going to the Puyallup fair with my grandmother. We always stopped at the Fisher booth for a scone. Maybe this year we just didn’t see their booth. And, for me, scones just aren’t the same as they were back in the 30s when they had actual butter inside.

So, Friday’s visit to the fair was enough of an “upper” for me to vow that I was going to make it to the top of the Seminary Hill Natural Area after all — just slow and easy. 

I’ll let you know when I’ve done it. For sure, it won’t be during one of our frequent heat waves, and that may take it into Thanksgiving.


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