by | Dec 19, 2022

I’ve always thought the best place to get a haircut is on the courthouse square in just about any small town in Missouri. While I haven’t quite figured out how they do it, every downtown barber is well-versed on topics as varied as when to plant your corn, who has the best pie in town and whether or not it’s going to rain.

Such a person is my barber, Roy Dean Simpson, owner of Simpson’s Barber Shop in California, Missouri. Roy gave me my first haircut, watched me get my first fat lip from my brother and always managed to find me a dime or two for his gumball machine. As I became a young man, Roy gave me one of my first pocketknive.

No matter what kind of day you were having, you always left his shop with a smile on your face and ears a little lower. 

A lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same in the 70 years since Roy bought the business and started snipping sideburns. What hasn’t changed is Roy, who is still cutting hair at 90, along with plenty of his clients who say they won’t get their hair cut anywhere else.

This anniversary issue of Rural Missouri got me thinking how certain things become a fixture when they are around for a long time. For 75 years, electric cooperatives in Missouri have used these pages to communicate with their members. Rural Missouri and the electric co-ops that provide it have become trusted friends. I’m talking about the kind of friend who doesn’t need to knock when they pay you a visit.

Rural Missouri — and communications in general — are such a cooperative thing it’s hard to separate the two. Co-ops exist to provide a service, not a profit, and are owned by those they serve. For that to work, there has to be constant communication between the co-op and its members.

This publication has played a vital role in that effort for 75 years.

Times have changed, and electric cooperative communications have too. Today we use social media to relay news that can’t wait, and you can read these words online as well as in print.

Our focus is no longer on teaching members how to use electricity — we’re pretty sure you know what it can do. But we do want you to stay safe and we want you to know all the things your electric cooperative can do for you.

People get scared of change, but the reality is that it’s inevitable. I say as long as it is change for the better it’s fine by me. I won’t try to predict the future, but I can tell you two things for sure.

One is that you will get a great haircut at Simpson’s Barber Shop. The other is that your electric co-op will always be there for you.

Caleb is the executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Boone Electric Cooperative.

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