Dolly Parton is famous for saying: “We didn’t have any money, but we were rich in things that money don’t buy. You know, like love and kindness.” She wore her coat of many colors with pride, after all. But even Parton was sometimes embarrassed about her family’s financial situation. One day at school, she told a lie that made it seem like her family had more money than they did. Her brother, who was in the same class as her, didn’t rat her out. But he did beat her up on the way home and tattle to their parents.
Dolly Parton’s ‘mean’ brother Denver
With 11 siblings, there was bound to be one or two in the bunch Parton didn’t get along with. Denver was definitely that sibling for the “Jolene” singer.
“My brother Denver was mean,” Parton wrote in her first memoir, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business. “He’s my brother and I love him, and I wish I could say he was ‘high-strung’ or ‘moody’ or make some other excuse, but the fact is he was just plain mean.”
Dolly and Denver were close in age, so they were always around each other. This caused the siblings to fight like “two ill-tempered badgers whose tails had been tied together by a mischievous child, perhaps a mean little boy like Denver.”
Dolly and Denver were in the same grade at school, which annoyed the singer’s brother. But one thing Dolly can say about Denver is that he was always honest.
The lie Dolly told at school
Dolly and Denver attended a public school that was filled with “kids who were much better-off than we were.”
One day, in health class, the teacher had everyone stand up and say what they’d had for breakfast that morning. As Dolly awaited her turn, she became embarrassed of her biscuits and gravy breakfast. It seemed all her classmates had had elaborate breakfasts of eggs, sausage, bacon, and orange juice—things the Partons could never afford.
“I hated my biscuits and gravy,” wrote Dolly. “I wanted to gag them up and poverty along with them.”
So she decided to fib.
“I was not above a creative stretching of the truth to get me out of an uncomfortable situation,” wrote Dolly.
When it was her turn to share what she’d had for breakfast that morning, the “Light of a Clear blue Morning” singer said: “Oh, I had eggs and waffles and orange juice and sausage and cornflakes . . .”
As she rattled off her fake breakfast, Dolly could feel her brother’s eyes burning holes in her back.
“I had forgotten he would be next in line,” wrote Dolly. “Damn alphabetical order! I knew he wouldn’t lie, especially not to save me.”
But to Dolly’s surprise, when it was Denver’s turn to share what he’d had for breakfast, he said: “I had the same thing she had,” which was technically the truth. They’d both had biscuits and gravy.
Denver beat Dolly up and told on her at home
For a second, Dolly thought her brother had her back. But then she felt his fist grinding into the back of her shirt and she knew she had another thing coming.
“Not only did he beat on me on the way home, he also told Mama and Daddy that I had lied at school, causing me to get a whipping when I got home,” wrote Dolly.
Though Denver and Dolly had a contentious relationship growing up, the “9 to 5” singer wrote in her book that her brother had “softened over the years.”
“We are good friends now, and he even named his daughter Dolly Christina in my honor,” she wrote.
Source: Cheat Sheet
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