Rural America’s greatest playwright has died. Horton Foote was 92 and he lived in Wharton, Texas. His plays were all rooted in the language and life of that small town on the Colorado River southwest of Houston — from the screenplay for To Kill a Mockingbird to The Trip to Bountiful and Tender Mercies.
“He often seemed to resemble a character from one of his plays,” Wilborn Hampton wrote in the New York Times. “Always courteous and courtly, he spoke with a Texas drawl. He enjoyed good food and wine, but he usually opted for barbecue and iced tea or fried chicken with a Coca Cola when he was home in Texas.”
The Yonder talked with Foote in Wharton years ago. He missed the days when people would spend their evenings on the front porch, but he wasn’t nostalgic at all. “I’m an observer,” Foote told us. “I’m not taking sides. I’m just watching. I could say we should go back to the way it was, but that wasn’t paradise, it wasn’t heaven. People made three dollars a week. They worked seven days a week. Picked cotton. And that wasn’t so good either. Now we have a new aristocracy. New wealth. But we’re not going to go back. Of that I’m sure. Where we’re headed, I don’t know. But I am interested, aren’t you?”