Dolly Parton’s hit “Coat of Many Colors” could describe Parton in the midst of her impoverished childhood, which becomes poetic about the multicolored title coat, but it’s much more a fact than fiction. (The coat is both an allusion to the Biblical coat in many colors that Joseph wears from the Jewish and Christian Bibles, and a simple story from Parton’s own childhood, in which a coat sewn by her mother from rags is her most valuable The song doesn’t even begin to analyze the depth of poverty that Parton – the daughter of a hardworking little worker and an often ill housewife – had to endure during her formative years.
Some of her most terrifying anecdotes over the years related to the extreme food insecurity that arose over the lives of Parton, her parents, and her many brothers and sisters. “People hear me talking about eating squirrels and marmots, but in such mountains you really didn’t have much choice,” she once said in an open interview about her childhood Rolling stone Magazine. “We were twelve children. We never ate Opossum – I remember Dad said, “This is like a goddamn rat.” But we ate everything – turtles, frogs. I only remember the big old marmots – whistling pigs, as they were called – and you cooked them with sweet potatoes, and you had different ways to get rid of this playful taste. ‘