Today is the annual meeting of SLEMCO, the utility co-op that powers much of rural south Louisiana. SLEMCO meets every year at this time at the Cajundome in Lafayette. In addition to official business, the meeting features bands, kid stuff, free coffee and doughnuts, multiple door prizes, scholarships and the grand prize of a car or truck.
My grandfather was a SLEMCO member for 35 years, and he and I went to the meetings each year I was in high school. I always had fun peeking into the prize vehicles and even more fun flirting with the many teenage girls who would show up. Pop's deal with me was always that if he won the car, I'd get his old station wagon. Every year, that didn't happen.
One year, a picture of Pop mingling with other members showed up in the following year's SLEMCO Power promo. Sadly, he had died in the months prior. With him died our annual trek.
But SLEMCO remains of interest to me in light of the politics of recent years. Its clientele is overwhelmingly rural and conservative, which means that they presumably use their successful, 76-year-old public utility to power up Fox News broadcasts about how socialism is destroying America. And many will no doubt discuss "takers" and government largesse over their free coffee, while waiting to see if they've won an expensive prize, paid for in part by community dollars, at the lavish event.
I've noticed that the meetings, just like the utility itself, have endured for decades. There's a lesson lurking there for some people.