The one and only Dolly Parton recalls her fierce love for her “daddy,” his sense of humor, and how he used to secretly scrub her hometown statue.
While the country icon has given many interviews over the past year, her stories never get old. Parton, one of history’s most prolific songwriters, is a storyteller to her bones. As such, she is a natural fit for her latest partnership. Apple tapped Dolly to star in their inaugural set of Fitness+ Time to Walk experiences for Apple Watch. Within, Apple Watch users can “take a walk down memory lane” with Parton as they exercise.
“While many of us feel confined during this time,” Parton begins in her Fitness+ program, “I’m hopeful that people will take a walk down memory lane with me and we can all feel a little more freedom taking the time to walk together.”
Alongside sharing the story behind 9 to 5 (film and themesong both), the icon gets deeply personal in recounting her “dear ol’ daddy.”
Dolly Parton’s Father Helped Keep Her Humble
Any fan of Dolly’s knows she comes from the most humble of beginnings. Born and raised in the Appalachian region of Sevierville, Tennessee, Parton is the daughter of a sharecropper, her father Robert, and the fourth of twelve children reared by her mother, Avie.
“I always feel like I got my work ethic from my dad,” she says in her Fitness+ episode. Eventually, her father would come to own their land and grow tobacco on it to support the family. While he advanced in life, Parton says he never lost his humble spirit – or sense of humor.
“Daddy used to go down to the courthouse where they had erected a statue of me,” Dolly recalls. “I remember myself being so proud of that statue. … I thought, ‘A statue of me in the courthouse yard? That’s usually reserved for presidents and people that have done really great things like that.'”
“So I went home and I said, ‘Daddy did you know, they’re putting a statue of me … down at the courthouse?’ And Daddy said, ‘Well yeah, I heard about that.’ And he said, ‘Now to your fans out there you might be some sort of an idol. But to them pigeons, you ain’t nothing but another outhouse.”
With “a bucket of soapy water in the back of his pick-up truck…”
Parton laughs at the strong memory still. Yet as much as Robert would rib his little girl, his pride for her shined above all else.
Dolly recalls how her father would take “a bucket of soapy water in the back of his pick-up truck” in the middle of the night. There, at the Sevier County Courthouse in her hometown, Robert Parton would secretly scrub the statue of his daughter – and the Dolly plaque below it -to keep it pristine.
“That touched me so much,” Dolly says.
Being raised into sharecropping meant Robert Parton never had a chance to attend school as a child. As such, he was illiterate for most of his life. “I loved my daddy and wanted him to be proud of himself, as I was proud of him,” Parton continues. It is through this bond that she would later ask her father to help her launch The Imagination Library – Dolly’s signature charity foundation by which her family distributes books to children in need across the globe.
And for this, Parton concludes, her father was more proud of her for than anything else.