Author finds American dream in Hill Country residents, including eight from Burnet County

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

KERRVILLE — The American dream can be found in the Texas Hill Country.

That’s the message from “Ambassadors of the Texas Hill Country,” a book written by John F. Aceti of Kerrville.

Aceti interviewed 54 people residing in Texas, including six in Marble Falls and two in Burnet, for his book. The subjects represent 14 states and 19 countries, he said.

“I tell the stories of their lives from the time they were 10 years of age to the present time,” he said. “Each storyteller’s image is recorded. They explain why they came to Texas, what inspired them to come to Texas, and they tell the stories of what happened in their home countries or home states.”

“Ambassadors of the Texas Hill Country” is a spinoff of his first book, “Faces of the Great Southwest Texas: A Photo Essay and Oral History of a Rare Breed,” written seven years ago after a conversation with an old cowboy, who encouraged Aceti “to go to southwest Texas and meet the people and listen to their stories.”

So he met people at public places, from visitors centers and chambers of commerce to post offices.

“My purpose was to really share the stories with others,” he said. “All of their stories are related to our personal lives.”

Some of the Burnet County residents featured in the book include Michael Van Brocklin, Kristin Bowman, Michael Clark, Peggy Little and Darren Queen.

Van Brocklin said Aceti came by his place of business, The Highlander restaurant, to interview him. Van Brocklin calls himself a transplant, after being born in Orange County, Calif., and living in the San Francisco Bay area.

“Between me and my friends, we need to do a reality show,” he said with a laugh. “Every day, we have a different topic. It’s always fun at The Highlander.”

Little, who is the principal of Falls Career High School in Marble Falls, said the reason she talked to Aceti was to encourage her students.

“There are different ways people come up to be successful,” she said. “I never set foot in college until I was 30. There’s time in your life to do things you want to do.”

Aceti will be the guest speaker at the Sunrise Rotary Club at 7 a.m. Jan. 29 at River City Grille, 700 First St. Afterward, he’ll conduct a book signing at the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce visitor center, 801 U.S. 281, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

He donates 6 percent of the proceeds from every book purchase to helping eradicate polio around the world.

“Each (person) leaves a legacy to the people of today as well as the young people,” he said. “Legacies are very inspirational. They have some very vivid stories of their lives and struggles.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com