How Dolly Parton almost lost her toes

It’s common knowledge that Dolly Parton comes from humble roots. The country legend hails from rural Tennessee, where she grew up as one of a dozen children in a home that barely had enough room for the whole family.

The Partons didn’t have much money. Parton recalled in a 1978 Playboy interview that was unearthed and animated by the PBS series Blank on Blank in 2015 that she and her siblings would sleep “three and four in the bed” and that they would “wet on her” in the middle of the night.

In the winter, this was considered to be a blessing as the family couldn’t afford to heat their home. “That was almost a pleasure to get peed on because it was so cold,” said the singer. “Lord. It was as cold in the room as it was outside. We’d bundle up to go to bed.”

Dolly Parton's mother once had to sew her toes back on

Parton shared another story of how poverty affected her life on The Dr. Oz Show in 2017 (via ET Canada). As a little girl, she cut three of her toes almost completely off after accidentally jumping on a broken jar while playing. Unable to afford a doctor, the family took matters into their own hands.

“My dad and my brothers, they had to hold me down,” said Parton. “Mama, she put cornmeal… I think the cornmeal was to absorb the blood. They put kerosene on it for antiseptic and mama took her sewing needles — she used to make our quilts and stuff — and she literally had to sew my toes back on. But they worked, and they healed, and I’m still walking on them!”

In spite of the family’s poverty, Parton grew up happy. “We always made jokes and said we didn’t even know we were poor till some smart-aleck up and told us,” she once told Today. “We didn’t have any money, but we were rich in things that money don’t buy. You know, like love and kindness and understanding.”

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