LAST summer (2006) my film team and I were fortunate to interview Former Speaker of the Texas House Pete Laney for our documentary about the very small rural schools that play Six Man Football in Texas. I was raised in Lubbock but have been living in Austin since 1974. At that interview I realized that Speaker Laney reminded me a lot of former representative "Jake" Pickle from the Austin area. A public servant, a believer in our State and our country and a Texas liberal before some marketing jerk made it a bad word.
But for me Laney was more than that. My whole family is from the West Texas and South Plains area and I had just met Pete for the interview that day. But being at Pete's little office in Hale Center was like having Sunday dinner after church at my grandmother's house in Lubbock many years ago and on many many Sundays during my childhood. It was a time where you felt important, cared about and part of something better. When you were part of our family and at my grandmother's house, regardless of your politics or religion, you were cared for, loved and respected. Even if they did look at me a little funny sometimes. I believe that is what Pete brought to Texas politics, a belief that we are all part of something better and it was his job to make the better happen.
We have some great comments from Pete in our little film (sixmantexas.com) and it was an honor to have met him and have him take some time for a unknown, novice filmmaker. Our film deals with rural issues and rural schools through the eyes of Six Man football and I believe Pete will continue to contribute positively to those issues as long as he is with us.
One comment of his sticks in my mind because it reminds me so much of the humor I grew up with in the vast cotton farming areas of the South Plains. I asked him what year he made the most money farming, he furrowed his brow for a moment searching for the year, then he smiled and said, "Next year...."
Our interview could not have ended better!