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Dolly Parton Reveals She Almost Lost Her Toes as a Child, But Her Mama Saved the Day

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Dolly Parton isn’t shy about the fact that she’s gone under the knife every now and then to maintain her appearance. The country music icon is known for saying “it costs a lot of money to look this cheap,” after all. But it turns out that one of her earliest surgical procedures wasn’t actually done by a doctor — instead, it was the work of her mom’s trusty sewing kit.

Parton shared the shocking story about nearly losing a few of her toes as a child in the latest episode of the NPR podcast Dolly Parton’s America. The series is taking a deep-dive into her life and music, with this installment focusing on her time growing up in the mountains of Tennessee. While telling stories about running around at six or seven years old, she casually remembered a time when she jumped over a fence and landed on a broken Mason jar. “I remember them picking me up, my dad and my brothers, holding me down, [and] mama pouring kerosene on my toes,” she explained. “They held me down and mama sewed ’em back together enough to where they held.” Yikes! No wonder she still remembers this crazy story all these years later.

It isn’t the first time we’ve heard this backwoods tale from her childhood, though. Parton previously shared it with Dr. Oz on his talk show in 2017. At that time, she revealed another homespun treatment her mom relied on to save her little piggies. “Mama, she put cornmeal — now, you’re a doctor, you might know — I think the cornmeal was to absorb the blood,” she explained. The kerosene and stitches came after the cornmeal and apparently did the trick. We’ve heard some pretty wild stories about Parton’s life before, like the time she found a baby named Jolene on her front doorstep, but this one just might just take the cake. 

Still, you’ve got to be impressed by how fast Mama Parton worked to save her kiddo’s toes! And we’re so glad she did: It’s hard to imagine the queen of country music waltzing around on stage without her high heels sparkling with every step.

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