The Violet Crown

O. Henry once described Austin as wearing a “violet crown.” Since then, city leaders and everyday citizens have searched for where O. Henry got that descriptions. For some, the answer is simple – mushrooms. Austin is famous for its population of hippies from the past and present. (We like hippies in Austin.) Hippies are known for many things including their use of substances that affect perception. Illegal mushroom tea produces hallucinations with a purple haze. (You may recall a song about a purple haze.)

Others say the city of Austin is surrounded by a thin cloud of lithium. This cloud reflects sunlight especially at dawn and dusk giving the city a purple haze. That is why, according to these armchair experts, the city has a general air of fun and carefree enjoyment of life.

Knowing the little I do about O. Henry, I would have to say both explanations would work for him. He enjoyed his tall tales, and he enjoyed the occasional cup of tea.

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