Tumbleweed Smith
Tumbleweed Smith

When Donna Albus threw her hat in the ring for the Abilene City Council, she announced her candidacy in a leather shop owned by her son.

She is a flamboyant woman who wears outrageous hats and clothes that give the appearance she’s always in costume. She is known as Abilene’s biggest cheerleader and two years ago was voted Abilene’s Citizen of the year. She has won the Mrs. LBJ Award for environmental and community involvement and is past president of Keep Texas Beautiful. She has worked on several preservation and clean up projects in Abilene.

If you haven’t been to Abilene lately you need to go. The city has become a garden spot filled with art. The city has several parks, museums, theaters, a zoo, downtown murals, a philharmonic orchestra and other attractions. It is home to Dyess Air Force Base and three universities.

The city is known as the storybook capital of America. A downtown sculpture garden features bronze figures from children’s literature: The Lorax, Yertle the Turtle, The Grinch, Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears a Who, Stuart Little, The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears and Cat in the Hat. The city has an abundance of flowers and trees.

City councilwoman Albus recently helped the city get nearly 30,000 daffodil bulbs in the ground. Then one day the mayor approached her and suggested she take on the project to plant crepe myrtles all over town. So she got a committee together and visited with the person appointed to chair it. Donna has made speeches about the effort and I was fortunate enough to be in the audience at one of them.

“My chair said, ‘let’s order 5,000 crepe myrtles.’ I said I was thinking about just one thousand. So we compromised and ordered 3,000.
“We talked to the newspaper guys and at the end of their story they wrote: ‘hey, have you heard? Myrtle’s coming.’

“Then a billboard went up. It was hot pink and had the silhouette of a Victorian lady with a hat on and a dress showing her best attributes. The sign carried the words: Myrtle’s coming. Get your bed ready.

“One woman took exception to that and she called the city manager who called me in and said, ‘Donna we have had a complaint about your billboard. A lady objected to the sexual innuendos.’ And I replied in my usual reserved and quiet manner, GOOD LORD, ROY. That lady also called the newspaper. The Associated Press picked up the story. She called the TV station and CNN picked it up. An Internet magazine out of New York carried the story. I was quoted in Newsweek Magazine. We heard from every state in the nation plus Toronto, Canada, Sydney, Australia and Tokyo, Japan. Did I mention that we sold 8,369 crepe myrtles. So I’m here to tell you if you think sex doesn’t sell, it does.”