Dolly Parton’s mom once sewed her toes back on with a quilting needle

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Well, this is kind of random – for a lot of reasons. First of all, Dolly Parton showed up on Dr. Oz yesterday. Secondly, she shared a childhood story about how she almost lost three toes, only to have her mother use a little “mountain medicine” to remedy the situation. The 71-year-old country legend recalled, “I was probably about six or seven. I had jumped across the fence onto a broken mason jar and cut three of my toes, just my little toes on my right foot, almost off and they were just kind of hanging there.”

Umm, eww. As evidenced by Dolly’s song and made-for-TV movie Coat of Many Colors, her family was not able to afford a visit to the doctor, so Dolly’s mother took matters into her own hands. As Dolly said,

“So they grabbed me up and all my dad and my brothers, they had to hold me down. Momma, she put cornmeal — now, you’re a doctor, you might know, I think the cornmeal was to absorb the blood. They put kerosene on it for antiseptic and momma 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.”

[From Dr. Oz via PEOPLE]

As much as I realize how odd it was to have Dolly on that show, I don’t care, because I, for one, can’t get enough of her. She’s a legend. She’s also a wonderful person and friend. You want proof? I’ve got it.

She took the stage in Nashville on Wednesday night as part of “All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers’ Farewell Concert Celebration.” Before serenading Kenny with “I Will Always Love You,” she declared, “I know I’m artificial, but I like to think my heart is real, I have a spot (in my heart) for you that’s never ever going to be touched by anybody else.” And, after performing their classic duet, “Islands in the Stream,” Dolly asked him, “How about me and you go out like rock stars?” and then they both extended their microphones and participated in an epic mic drop before walking off stage, arm-in-arm. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to chopping these onions.

50th Annual CMA Awards Show

Dolly Parton and Jennifer Nettle seen on The Voice season 11 as seen on NBC.

Variety and Women in Film's 2017 at Gracias Madre

Photos: Getty Images,

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25 Responses to “Dolly Parton’s mom once sewed her toes back on with a quilting needle”

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  1. Lolo86lf says:

    Dolly Parton to me is an angel on Earth. She is a wonderful human being and she really makes a difference in this hatred-filled world.

  2. Froggy says:

    I need to buy the songs from this tribute concert.

  3. Beth says:

    If everyone’s insurance is taken away, sewing toes back on or doing other medical procedures at home might become a normal, regular thing

  4. Enough Already says:

    Used to love her but no – the dinner show at her restaurant Dixie Stampede makes Paula Deen look Woke.

    • Snowflake says:

      What do they do that’s awful?

    • Enough Already says:

      A native peoples laser light “dance” interlude, guests divided into North and South regiments and encouraged to cheer on their side in a mock battle which the North wins, of course. In onecbattle Southern child “soldiers” chase a terrified, live black chicken around the battleground while Northern children chase a white one, a North/South miniature pony race in which Cracker Jack wins, no mention of slavery, the war is referred to as a “disagreement”.

      A woc journalist wrote about it in Slate magazine and she was trashed as an “uppity” race baiter and “BLM terrorist”.

      Not a word from Parton who has long styled herself “The Daughter of the Old South”.

      • Christin says:

        I have never gone to DS, and had no idea what the shows actually portray. I knew they had horses/animals, which seems interesting considering it’s a dinner theater. Tickets seem expensive (IMO) for what you get. I’ve heard you get a basic fried chicken dinner, mashed potatoes, etc., with no silverware/utensils.

        A ticket to her amusement park is also pricey. She’s undoubtedly made a small fortune from lending her name to major attractions in the Smokies.

  5. grabbyhands says:


    But you know what? I am here for it. Totally here for it. In another terrible week in this dumpster fire of an administration, including having ICE officer detain a 10 year old with cerebral palsy that has just gotten out of surgery (wow, won’t future generation point at that and say “this really DID make America great again”), and the fact that we’re still neck deep in the mire of people trying to softball excuse their way out of ignoring seeing their colleagues deal with sexual abuse and harassment, I will take a story about Dolly’s mom sewing her toe back on with a sewing needle any day. It is one of the only pure things I’ve read this whole lousy week.

    In short, thank you for posting this.

  6. Nancypants says:

    Holy sh*t.

    A few months ago, I was talking to my Mini-Me and I told her that my maternal grandparents didn’t have indoor plumbing until I was about 8 years of age. They had an outhouse and a pump in the kitchen sink along with a wood heated stove and a big galvanized tub for baths.
    They lived way out in the country.

    My husband overheard and chimed in, “We were poor but we never had an outhouse!” Like that’s the worst thing possible. (Snot)

    Now, we’ve been together for 30 years.
    He grew up poor Irish Catholic in a tiny house full of people and critters in CT and he’s said that they sometimes ate ketchup sandwiches because that’s all they had.

    I grew up on farms/ranches, so, I said, “Oh yea?? We might have had an outhouse for awhile but we never went hungry, Yankee! We ate good and we were clean!”

    Boom and I’ll also state that I think Dolly came a LONG way from her upbringing. Who would have thought? She once said they shoved newspapers in the wall cracks of their shack to help keep the snow and cold out.

    • Veronica says:

      Yeah, Parton is a very rare example of a true rags-to-riches story. It’s a real eye-opener to read about her youth and realize the kind of dire poverty that exists in those rural areas, even in a country as technologically industrialized as America.

    • Christin says:

      Her upbringing was commonplace in rural Appalachia (and other areas, no doubt). No running water, waking up to frost on the blankets (if you were in the cold end of the House), etc.

      Dolly has never tried to hide or act shameful of how she grew up. She owns a cabin where she lived as a child, too. I recall her talking about retreating there to write songs for one of her albums several years ago.

  7. Barbcat says:

    I love her. And I love that she tries to stay out of politics. I could care less what celebrities think about politics! Tell me stories about sewing on toes, now that is interesting.

  8. Veronica says:

    I mean…that’s pretty much what a doctor would have done, just with different sterilization procedures. Sobering, though, to realize the kind of helplessness that lack of access to proper medical care can induce, especially when children are involved.

    • Ravensdaughter says:

      She is so lucky she didn’t get tetanus. I’m sure she didn’t have access to the vaccine (and I am pretty sure tetanus vaccine wasn’t available then anyway).
      Dolly’s mom-true grit.

  9. purple prankster says:

    milkshake duck.

  10. Margo S. says:


  11. Yup, Me says:

    Before everybody and their mama started hopping on the mic drop bandwagon, I always heard of rappers doing it. Not “rockstars”

    • KiddVicious says:

      And comedians. I saw my first mic drop at a comedy club in the 80’s. I don’t know enough about rap to know when rappers started doing it.

  12. Jegede says:

    Damn! Anytime I read/hear abut Dolly Parton’s upbringing I appreciate how lucky I am.

  13. Aud says:

    I’m uncomfortable with the north vs south theme of her theme park. It’s essy to hide behind “awe shucks” stories and ignore hard reality.

  14. Ann Valor says:

    “Sew” did mine. Only it was a can of peaches. *shrug*

  15. Jenn says:

    She’s one of those people hard not to love.