My grandparents lived in southeast Missouri, and when I was a child we had a habit of visiting them each summer. We lived in Oklahoma at the time, so Dad would load up the car, and we would drive to Missouri, pick up the grandparents and proceed through the sweltering Missouri Bootheel into Tennessee to fish at Reelfoot Lake.
The heat was unforgettable. One of my fondest memories was stopping somewhere in the Bootheel to get gas. I begged my dad for a soft drink, and he agreed to indulge me in the rare treat of a bottle of Orange Crush. I remember slowly sipping the delicious cold beverage, trying to make it last as long as possible, as we returned to the road, windows down, the blast of hot air doing little to cool our bodies.
Once we arrived at Reelfoot Lake we experienced another treat unimaginable: air conditioning. We did not have this luxury at our house, but the resort we visited had cabins with real A/C. It was so amazing — cold air blowing out of a window unit. We sat spellbound, in awe of the technology, right in front of the duct. It would be many more years before we moved into a house with air conditioning and eventually took it for granted.
Still, all these memories return every time we get to the true heat of summer, the 99-plus degree days, and almost every time I walk into a chill, air-conditioned building after working outside in the heat. Such memories — of fishing, of spending time with grandparents and vacationing with the family — are hard to beat.
Last month at our church, an older woman, one of the wise ones in our congregation, approached me and told me that she was able to get along just fine without air conditioning. She said she had learned to live without it and that the brief power outage she had experienced following high winds from thunderstorms had not caused her any problems. I know that is not true for everyone, however, as the record-breaking storms left many without power.
We know you rely on your co-op’s electric service to survive during these hottest days of summer, and that’s why our primary mission, both now and throughout the year, is to provide you with reliable and affordable power. And we take that obligation seriously. Reliable and affordable energy not only makes life easier, but also lubricates the wheels of commerce and industry. It means that rural business can compete in the global market, which provides us with our much-needed jobs.
Today, when I drive through northeast Arkansas, the small towns remind me of my childhood days: band concerts at the pavilion on the square, family reunions at the city park and the smell of a charcoal fire as it is just getting started — the harbinger of great hot dogs or maybe even a thick, juicy burger! We still have those things and much more here in Arkansas, and I’m glad we haven’t lost them.
In this world today there are many things to be sad about, but I prefer to observe that there is still a lot of good, especially here in Arkansas. Good people who care about their neighbors and work to make their lives better. That’s what we do, each and every day. And that’s the cooperative difference.