Dolly Parton and Ponderosa Steakhouse
March 16, 2021

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In this rousing episode, Chuck and Big John discuss two things they hold near and dear to their hearts – buffets and Dolly Parton. No, the two are not equals – the Queen of Appalachia far outweighs a discount steak buffet. However, they speak passionately about both.

Ponderosa wonderland

Chuck Corra: You had a tweet about Ponderosa, the very fine dining establishment that you both known loves. I’m assuming a lot of our listeners know about, and I felt like it was the perfect opportunity for an introduction intro today because it got me thinking a lot about buffets. And, and we don’t have to go into this a lot.

I want to talk specifically about Ponderosa, but I went down a buffet rabbit hole before this, on the internet. Couple of takeaways. First of all, I did not realize until looking into this, how many buffet, restaurant chains are Western themed, that doesn’t make much sense to me. Western Sizzlin, golden corral.

I found one called Chuck aroma, which. Appreciate the shout-out there, but it was actually named after a Chuckwagon, which I found was used for cooking on old West cattle drives. And I have to [00:01:00] share the story about the Chuckwagon because it was really funny and it is that they got sued by this couple.

This was back in 2004. So it was a long time ago. This is when the Atkins diet was really. Do you remember that? Yeah, I never did it, but I know what you’re talking about. You don’t want to. They still sell frozen meals. Do they? Yeah. For the Atkins diet, I assume in Walmart. So they had a controversy because, um, they, they gained national tenant 2004.

When at their Taylorsville, Utah location, a couple following the Atkins diet were kicked out for trying to go back to the carved roast beef, 12 times the chains, the chains stated that and their defense, although they are a buffet, they’re not an all you can eat buffet, which that’s where the distinction matters.

I’ve never, I’ve never thought about that. Now, a couple of things about [00:02:00] this is how closely are the staff at the Taylorsville, Utah, Chuck aroma, watching people that they’re noticing that this couple is going for roast beef times, man, that is a, they must be hurting. I mean, If there are, they’re protecting that, that roast beef so much just, I think it’s, first of all, it’s absurd.

This is America. And what is one of the most American things that you can think of? A buffet? Hot dogs. Okay. Yeah, yeah, sure though. I mean, I’m not going to disagree, but a buffet is one of the most American things that you could possibly think of and what is more American than even that is using a buffet to engorge yourself.

And follow a fad diet at the same time. So I’m on the side of the family. It’s been 17 years since this happened. Hopefully they’re still eating a ton of roast beef, but to the real question or really the real topic Ponderosa, what made you think of it? And, [00:03:00] and, and for people that don’t know what is Ponderosa, I think about Ponderosa.

Big John: At least once a day and I’m not exaggerating it it’s once a day. I’m I love ponder. Ponderosa is a, uh, it’s, it’s a buffet that was really popular between the nineties and like early two thousands. And then it just kind of died from there. There’s a couple of, well, there was a couple still remaining, uh, but COVID is probably taking them out.

Uh, but it was this magical place where when you walked in, instead of just ordering the buffet, you ordered an entree. And then like the greatest restaurant in the world. You get, you are, you, you are so taken care of at Ponderosa that when you order this entree, you’re not getting a C you’re not getting a salad for your side.

You’re not getting French fries for your side. You’re getting an entire buffet as your side [00:04:00] to your entree. It’s beautiful. This is the poor man’s Texas de Brazil. Now I had a different ex I don’t want to say the different experience of Ponderosa. I was never allowed to order from them.

Oh, I was, I did one time and it was for my 12th birthday. Oh, that’s a big president. It’s massive. That’s $20 and I could see $40 worth of food. I can tell you the older, I can still tell you the older because it’s so rare. I got the, I got the 10-ounce ribeye with mashed potato and the bar. That was a good pun, by the way.

It’s so rare. Ooh, I got medium Breyer. Yeah, well, that’s smart. I wouldn’t go full rare. That’s that’s, that’s only what animals do. So I, uh, I like when you walk in, I got so much [00:05:00] nostalgia when you post that picture because you walk in and it’s almost like for me and you, uh, excluding your 12th birthday, it’s kind of like a tease because you walk in and they’ve got the illuminated.

Menu of olden times where they’ve got these pictures that were clearly done in like a Cirrus, Olan, mills portrait studio of steak meals. And you walk by that and you tell him no buffet, bitch. And then they give you the tray and you go and you get hammered on food, but I always walked past and sometimes my parents would be like, they would get the entree.

Sometimes I always wanted it, but last time I went there was maybe when I was like 10 and they’re like, you’re not old enough for a, uh, for a steak, which is hurtful to think about. But however, I just remember walking in and, and. God damn, it was so good. And it’s not the, like the chicken wings are terrible, but for some reason they were so good.

Whoa, don’t you [00:06:00] ever I’m going to stand by that literally was just, I was literally about talking about how good the gin, let it rip and see world. This is a new thing we’re doing. We’re teasing out on this show about when we disagree with each other. The gender politics. Can chicken wings upon the roast had this, had this massive, um, almost like a peppery aftertaste.

It really got it really got to the tip of your tongue unlike and growing up poor. Like we only got to go to Ponderosa on like special occasions and stuff. And so, uh, there, there is only one time a year. What we, I think we went like three, three or four times a year, but like, uh, There’s only one time that I purposely would wear a jacket, a hoodie, and like jeans with the sides zippers.

And, uh, the I’m talking my birthday’s in. When you said, when you said, wait, when you said jacket, the first thing I thought it was like only on [00:07:00] special occasions where a jacket. I thought we’re talking about a suit jacket and you weren’t a suit jacket into a punch. Yeah, unfortunately, they didn’t make 18 Husky suit jackets at that time.

They weren’t as inclusive kids. Lucky. Uh, the, but no, like my, my birthday’s in June. So me walking in with like, I’m talking, you know, you remember the baggy pants with the, um, on the side, they had the cargo zipper. I’m talking about like a, you could zip up your pants or something. They were like, track pants are not well, um, they weren’t  they were like, uh, I don’t know, wind pants, what they called them.

I can still remember the hoodie that I would wear. It had the zips, like for your pockets, you could zip them up. And then on, on top of that, I had an echo. Is that what they were? Yeah. And echo, uh, a jacket. And I’m telling you June [00:08:00] 22nd, when I rolled in, they knew it was me because when I walked out, I didn’t walk out empty-handed.

I walked out with 12 cookies, 24 wings. I mean, I was living the dream for the next day. I’m surprised that you wore the same outfit because I would have just assumed that it had like, was just covered in grease stains from it, from storing food in the pockets. Have you seen any childhood pictures of me?

Fair point. Okay. Fair point.

Chuck: which is there is a certain attire for buffets. That’s why they make this is a, and I’ll give credit to the great will Diaz. He was an attorney in Houston. He was my law school classmate who coined the term buffet pants, which is any pair of pants that has an elastic waistband. Um, he. I think he felt adopted it.

He didn’t, that’s where I heard it first. So I wanted to give him credit where credit [00:09:00] was due. Okay. Okay. You can give credit, I’ll give this one, dish it out, even though I can’t serve it. I, when, and so I wore buffet pants. What a buffet. You serve yourself and thank God you do. That’s that’s the beauty of it too.

Really? I know I’m getting like real emotional here about buffets, but I wore the buffet pants. 

Big John: I’m about to cry. 

Chuck: Well, especially because Ponderosa is only doing takeout right now. I looked it up. Yeah. My Taylor, uh, my wife gets really, really upset when, um, I just pull into Ponderosa parking lots before talking to her about where we should eat.

Um, because I have a rule, um, that if I see one, I have to stop. Like if it’s open because to me it’s kinda like, um, well I read this somewhere. I don’t know if it’s true but I think the Pope has to stop at every Catholic church she sees. Yeah. That’s why he closes his eyes a lot. If he’s really [00:10:00] tired in the car.

Right. He doesn’t want to stop. And so, uh, that’s like me, uh, but I do stop at every Ponderosa and me, I have to eat there. Now, if you don’t know, Taylor’s vegan so hard for Ponderosa these steaks, I will tell you what gro growing up. I always thought, because growing up, we had a, we had a carport and I always thought, you know, the day that I.

Oh, and a garage is the day that I know I’ve made it. And I found that to not be true. Check what the, the real day that I knew I made it was when I walked into Ponderosa. And I said to myself, I can order any entree. I want. That’s a special moment. Put it on a credit card. It’s a special moment that really, really hits for you more Ponderosa and Bonanza guy.

Cause Bonanza is the other. Sister restaurant to [00:11:00] Ponderosa again with all these damn Western Bonanza closed down when I was six. Okay. And so you didn’t get to go there very much. I didn’t, I didn’t, but I do have a very traumatic story from Bonanza Bonanza, Parkersburg, West Virginia, which is now the home of a taco bell.

John discusses the last meal with his dad at a Bonanza near his house

Okay. And, and also worth noting within spitting distance of your childhood home. Right. And my local funeral home that is very true, very fitting. There were a lot of joint, um, events with those too. Very true. We do like to cater, uh, we, we do cater talk about there and. The big thing that I remember from Bonanza, I was four years old.

And, uh, that was funny enough. That was still when my dad was around. And it was like, I think this may, and I’m not making this up for like a podcast joke or anything. I think that may have been the last meal that I ever had with him. Uh, that’s not a joke.

I [00:12:00] think it’s the last real I ever had with my bike, electrical fire. And do you remember or not hunters? Bonanza? Yeah. Did you go to Bonanza? Like when you were a kid? I did a handful of times. Yeah. Okay. Do you remember, and this might be all buffets, but I’ve specifically remembered Bonanza and Ponderosa when they would bring the plates out that they just washed and they were like the hottest thing you touched.

Okay. Four year old, big John didn’t know that. Right? Big John. I doubt even cared. Well also, I wasn’t supposed to be serving myself, but if you saw me, like at four years old, I’m four 11, one 50. So, you know, people, aren’t going to question me I’m bigger than half the town of Parkersburg. And so here I am, that’s not true.

I’m bigger, but not that big, uh, I’m normal size and person. Um, but. But yeah, four years old. True story. I pick up this plate and one of my favorite things at Bonanza were the meatballs – I love the meatballs. [00:13:00] I would just pile those things on and play. I’ll just, uh, you know, trash them down anyway, picked up the plate, put the meatballs, put the meatballs on there.

My family is across next to the crane. Uh, the crane machine, which had like little balls. And I still remember that he got so hot. I dropped my plate. It breaks everywhere. Four year old. John has always been told that you pick up your messages, right? Like that’s what you gotta do. Well, unfortunately for me, uh, glass cut you.

So here I am as a four year old with a giant piece of the plate stuck in my hand. No joke with meatball sauce all over me. Right. And I’m just like, I’m just looking at it. I yank it out of my hand, blood everywhere. This, this place is packed. Yeah. I mean, people are eating, I’m squirting blood just from my hand everywhere.

And now I think I’m starting to understand why my dad left.

I’ve never, I’ve never thought about this before. [00:14:00] Uh, no. Anyway, so being 2020, if I were you, I would have kept it in. So I could at least finish the meal because I had a meat ball in my mouth.

How was I going to know? I don’t know, Chuck, I literally just use the meatball spoon to feed my son just saying I never said that, but I’m just saying hindsight being 2020, maybe butterfly effect. Here we go again. Maybe your dad would still.

Breaking new ground here today. Oh God. I think we should.

All we can do is ask questions. All we can do is ask questions. Honda. Rosa Ponderosa goes out of business. Big John is crushed. [00:15:00] Okay. Because you know, birthdays just aren’t the same. Where do we go? You’re going to go. Where do we go? Taco bell turns out pizza place. Turn you can’t can’t afford it. It’s too expensive.

$30 a pizza. Are you kidding me? Just disgusting too. I don’t like the thick crust. Oh, it hits hard for me anyway. Uh, Ryan’s we started going to Ryan’s there’s one bill on South side near Walmart. It is, I mean, which is right up the road from me, which is really dangerous for, so reference to the South side of Parkersburg, West Virginia for our listeners that aren’t familiar.

Yeah. On the South side of a big city in West Virginia. And you know, I can tell you right now, we went there for my brother, worked there. Okay. And I’m pretty sure he only did it for the family discount and. Every everybody. Yeah. That’s a perfectly legitimate reason. Every birthday. Okay. We went there and they sang a song and I tweeted about this because I thought about it.

Why songs at buffets should be banned except for Dolly

[00:16:00] Waiters waitresses, staff members of these restaurants are not paid enough to sing you songs for your birthday. Stop asking, stop, having stop. Having your family ask it’s annoying the customer, the other customers. Don’t like it. We do not care that it’s your birthday at all. In fact, in fact, you become. You become the worst person in the restaurant.

And let I know that your family probably asked for it, right? But by association, you are the worst. That point blank. That is, that’s a good, the point though, is most of the time it is the asshole people with the person. I don’t care. I hate the person whose birthday it is. Um, you know, I’ll give him a little bit of leeway.

I’m not quite there on, Hey. Uh, I hate him. Uh, I don’t hate him, but I don’t like him. And, uh, look, I get the birthday song for Ryan’s. Can you sing it? Yeah, we’re not done bury me and started a Louis store. I wish [00:17:00] that when you die, bury me inside a buffet. No. Honestly. Yeah. The end of that. Okay. No, I, um, happy, happy birthday from all of us to you.

Hey, happy birthday from the ranch group. Ooh, you’re something. I don’t remember the second verse. You’re you’re you’re very, you’re very close. Happy, happy birthday. We’re so glad you came. Happy, happy birthday from the Ryan’s Ryans gang. We’re so glad we hope you are too happy. Happy birthday from lion’s crew.

That was perfect. Good job. Well, thank you. I never had my birthday there, but fair enough. But you didn’t have to because everybody else was getting sung too well. And that’s, you know, that’s a good point. I did go there around my birthday once and had a ton of anxiety that my sister or mom or somebody had told them, I was like sweating bullets.

Right? But I did. Uh, thank God, but you, so you brought [00:18:00] up Brian’s last buffet. What? There’s one more, just getting ready to say one of them, but which one are you thinking of? Oh, say it. Say it, tell it, let’s see if it’s the same one. Oh, CB. Old country buffet. Oh my God, that isn’t the one, but you’re right. I eat an old country buffet.

Right. I ate there two years ago. Got massive food poison. That was the one that we went to the most growing up more than Ponderosa, more than Ryan’s. Was old country buffet and I would get so much chocolate milk from there. So I don’t know why I did it anyway. Cause like I get chocolate milk at school. It hits harder there.

I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what else they’re getting that from. That’s I remember. Cause the lever was so heavy. On the, seeing that the mountain, it was so cold, but I do that. And then I’d also get a Coke or Sprite. I will get Sprite with it at which reminds me of just how much of a, a, my eating was like a human rights [00:19:00] violation.

Just like watching it happen. Because, and I told you, I, I replied to something and you put it on Twitter and Ponderosa this, it wasn’t just Ponderosa. I did this, but I will go. And so my parents would be like, you can only have like one bowl of ice cream, which is a perfectly legitimate thing for parents to say to a child, but because it’s so good, they didn’t ice cream bar.

And what I would do is I’d have that bowl, but then I’d go up. Like, Oh, I’d have, I would, my second bowl would be the public bowl, the one in front of my parents, the first one, because then it wasn’t as believable to go get the second one and eat in the bathroom. Uh, so I went up like I was going to get a second plate of food and I went and I made myself a bowl of ice cream and I went to the bathroom to eat it.

Because I wanted to goddammit and I was going to get to, we do have kind of the same idea, but here’s this grocer

I’m fine with, you know what, I own it, [00:20:00] whatever there was nowhere else to eat. Well, this is what I would do. So my, obviously, like there are multiple kids, you know, there’s four kids in my family at the time, so my mom has to watch the other three. So I go up and I can get. Ice cream. And, you know, she would obviously say the same thing.

Cause you know, my, my cholesterol at that point is through the roof. She’s like one bowl and that’s it. So what I would do is usually there were like four or five bowls out. Right. I would take those bowls and I would walk them to the salad bar and I would set them down. And then I would walk back with a plate.

And I would fill my plate with ice cream and like just the worst stuff. I’d get back to the table. My mom would go. I said one bowl. And I said, I would tell her, go look, there are no bowls. I did what I had to do work around every time.

you did what you had to do. That’s that’s the story of the buffet. All right. Name, the last buffet. And then we got, well, crap, uh, Hold on. Hold on. [00:21:00] You don’t even know the name. I literally had it in my head and I was so happy because, uh, Taylor and I talked about this today, uh, about what this was her dad’s favorite.

The final buffet before Dolly

Um, shoot. What is that thing called? USA steak, buffet, USA steak buffet. Did you ever go? I don’t think I’ve ever in West Virginia had one. One. We never went to Clark’s wonderful place. You walk in. Okay. You smell the steaks. It’s like Outback, steakhouse, but they just keep feeding you. It’s great. Oh, scene. I looked at the picture.

I’ve seen this before. God. I don’t remember where I think it was somewhere like close to Nashville. The reason why they’re out of business because they just gave you too many steaks that is not possible. Oh, I guess from a financial standpoint, that’s stupid from them. I thought you meant you were anyway.

I just, I F I felt like that was something that needed to be brought up. Speaking of USA steak buffet, our announcements this week. We have new stuff in the merch store. We’ve got a new shirt. It says unapologetically, Appalachian as fuck, except says AAF, don’t worry, don’t worry.

Announcements for the week and Dolly

Uh, and it’s there and we’re going to be putting some new stuff out probably next week. So I’ll link to it in the show notes, great stuff. Our exclusive this week is going on our, on our Patreon. By the way, I should mention that is going to be how to properly navigate a buffet. We’re just so into buffets this week.

We can’t stop talking about them. Maybe, maybe it’s because. This coronavirus pandemic has robbed us of our ability to go to a buffet. And that makes us sad. Makes me sad. We’re going to channel that, um, that positive energy into something for you on our patron. Go check it out. We’re also going to be publishing the second part of the Flatwoods monster exclusive on Patreon $10 here and above.

Go check that out too. It’ll be up this week. [00:23:00] Anyway, um, moving on to the topic at hand today, John, when this comes out, it’ll be the day after I think international women’s day honoring the contributions of women around the world. We decided that we would honor the contributions of one of the greatest women to ever come out of the great region of Appalachia, Dolly Parton.

An intro on Dolly Parton

Love it. This has been a long time in the making. I would say, uh, you know, we’ve talked about Dolly a lot on the show, tweeted a lot about her expressed our, uh, our gratitude in the form of shirts. Raise hell praise, Dolly. Stand by that. I think it’s time that we properly go over some of her more important contributions, both to society and to Appalachia, we’re going to hit on a few.

She’s got her resume or repertoire. Her life is way too expansive and impressive for us to even try to cover all of it. So we’re not going to do that. We’re just going to hit on some of the more important ones that we [00:24:00] think. But John, your thoughts going into this episode? When I thought about this a lot.

Cause you know, we’re doing an episode on it. Um, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what I could say that we hadn’t said, but then I thought of something when I was a kid, I have to admit, I know Dolly Parton was. I really didn’t, it’s not a joke. I had no idea. She was my mom. Didn’t talk about Dolly Parton. My mom’s not a, she’s not an Appalachia is now, cause she’s lived here for so long, but you know, uh, she’s from Connecticut, Dolly Parton.

Uh, also have, you know, my mom she’s like, uh, it’s not really into, uh, mainstream music. So maybe that’s why she didn’t talk about Dolly vermin. Great underground was very much a pure volume person. She was did. She was with Dre before, before everybody else was. Yeah. She was with them when he was in world-class wrecking crew.

John discusses his mom’s indie music roots and Dolly

Yeah. I mean, she still has it. She’s still listening to it every day. Yeah. All right. Yeah. She’s Indian. [00:25:00] Yeah, we, we bought her a Hulu, so she could have eight mile on repeat, but the least indie thing. But that’s hilarious. I did walk in, I did walk into my mom’s house today and she was watching the final round of a PGA tour.

My mom’s never had a golf ball in her life, but she has four channels. So she just picks whichever one second, get through. It says a lot about the excitement on the other three. True. Uh, anyway, Dolly Parton, uh, she deserves my full attention. What I was gonna say is, I didn’t know much about her growing up.

I didn’t obviously didn’t know, um, you know, how great of a public figure she was, but I can honestly say now that I will die, knowing that Dolly Parton is the true queen. I wouldn’t, I would die knowing that now. That’s right. That’s right. Yes. Suck it. Queen Elizabeth, who the queen of England. Never heard of it.

Yeah. Well, [00:26:00] sorry. I’ve only heard of, I literally have only heard of Apple app. You know what? She’s never heard of Bonanza Ponderosa, so who, who really okay. How could you, well, you know, it’s not fair for me to say, but yes it is. If you’ve never gone to a Ponderosa. Honestly, you are not, I can’t disagree with that

So I will, uh, I don’t have a way of communicating to the queen of England, but I’m sure that, you know, she, she feels that. So I’m going to hit you with some quick facts, just out of the gate here to highlight some of our, her impressive contributions, 51 studio albums she’s recorded 51, that’s insane, clean 47 solo, best selling female country music artist of all time.

She exists in 16 separate halls of fame, including the Nashville country music hall of fame nominated 382 times for various awards. And of those has won 189 times 21 of her singles and albums released have [00:27:00] gone gold or platinum. According to RIA 25 songs reached number one on the billboard hot country.

She has 862 entries in the US copyright office database thought. That was interesting. And finally fun fact, she is the godmother of Miley Cyrus thought. That was interesting. John, one of the, um, John, one of the reasons why we liked Dolly so much, and I don’t want to say relate to, cause we’re not multi-platinum million-dollar recording artists, but.

Her story. Her Appalachian story is one that I think people can relate to because she had incredibly humble beginnings and a lot of people, I think that know her for her, her music, which to your point earlier, I didn’t really listen to her growing up either. My parents didn’t really, I honestly didn’t come here.

I really know much about Dolly Parton until I moved to Nashville. In [00:28:00] Tennessee, which where she’s from. So that’s kind of where I started learning more about her, but she’s had really humble beginnings. She grew up dirt poor, as she said. Um, that’s a direct quote from her in Lucas Ridge, Tennessee, which is like not it’s.

I think it’s an unincorporated community outside of, uh, outside of the great smoky mountains and severe County, Tennessee, the fourth, John of 12 children. I was raised in a two room cabin with no electricity, no running water. In fact, I thought this was an interesting fact. Uh, her father paid the doctor who delivered her with a bag of corn meal.

So that is, I think it, I think that’s as humble as humble gets, um, And one thing I wanted to point out because this is something also, I think a lot of Appalachians can relate to. I know I can is like how hard working. Parents are, you’ve mentioned this about your mom a lot. Uh, her dad who was an incredibly important figure in her [00:29:00] life, which we’ll kind of touch on a little bit, was someone that I think I’m just judging based on my reading and what I’ve read and interviews I’ve seen with her.

As someone that was a really important figure for her and instilled in her a really hard work ethic. She had this one quote, um, that I related to a lot because it reminded me of my dad. Um, she said, and this is in Dolly’s word. So, you know, just talk to like Dolly, our sweet daddy works so hard for all of us.

At night. We used to take turns, rubbing his cracked, hardworking hands with corn silk lotion, because he worked so hard that day. And he came home with these just dry cracked hands. And I can remember my dad coming home. With, with similar, uh, um, issues and like how his hands had just like grease, coded into the end of the fingerprints on his hands.

And, and I think this is something that’s kind of like a theme in her life and certainly something that’s come out and her music, but I, John, I don’t know about you, but I, this is something I really, um, appreciated about Dolly because she, a lot of what she talks about and a lot of her [00:30:00] philanthropy, which we’ll talk about.

Is centered around where she grew up. Cause she never really forgot about where she came from. And the humble beginnings that she had, Dolly is one of those people I know that people like to pick and choose like, look, you can, you can cancel anybody. You can find flaws in anybody that you want. Uh, if, if Jesus was alive today, Twitter would find a flaw.

I mean, without a doubt, Oh, they, they find flaws even though he’s not at all. That’s true. Uh, you know, and this is, it’s just one of those things. Like I know that there are people who dislike Dali. I disagree with them. I think that, uh, obviously things are, Dolly is not perfect. No one claims that Dolly is perfect, but Dolly does a lot of really good work.

And she’s one of the only people that I can truly say. Has not forgotten where she came from because Chuck, she never left. She, she, she dedicated herself to her [00:31:00] community. She dedicated herself to helping, you know, the Appalachian region look. There is nothing. When you S when you make it big, there’s no contract that you sign that says you have to help anybody at all.

You can stay to yourself, but she didn’t. She donated, she’s donated so much funny shit. She’s the reason I have, I have shot one of a vaccine. Right. Like that’s without her, who knows because she donated money to help. These are the things that people like to ignore when they, when they poke, they poke holes in, in Dolly’s background.

Uh, Dolly Dolly is one of the few people that I, I will go. Um, as far as saying that she hasn’t, she hasn’t become too big for britches is as my, uh, grandparents. [00:32:00] Yeah. And I think she’s played her hand very. Smart very intelligently. Lamma said smartly. I don’t really know. Is that a word? I think so. Okay.

Well, whatever she played it, well, she, you know, she’s made half a billion dollars and again, like you said, there’s no obligation for her to do anything with that other than what she wants to do with it. And, but to your point, there are flaws with everyone. And I think it’s a small, small, small minority of people that don’t like Dolly Parton.

That’s fine. You know? You can, you can disagree. What, what, what I think is important is highlighting someone that has objectively had a positive impact on Appalachia and someone who is a rich person that has done good things with their money. You know, I think that’s, it’s something where, and like I said, we’ll get into some of her philanthropy, but it shouldn’t have to do any of that.

And you know, there’s a lot of people that have money that donate. But, but what, the reason why I think Dolly is such an. And an interesting and [00:33:00] compelling person is that it all fits back into that. Not forgetting where you’re from and wanting to lift people up from where she’s from.

That builds into a discussion about what she’s actually done, which is, and this is something that I didn’t know about until, um, till I moved to Tennessee is the imagination library. And this comes back to her dad being a really important figure in her life. So her dad, she said was, you know, one of the smartest people she knew, but he never learned how to read and write.

So he was, he was illiterate because I think the way the story goes is when he was younger, he had to just work. Like, he didn’t really have time to, to get like a, a formal schooling. It sounded like he had to go and work in the farm and be a, I think it was a sharecropper and all kinds of things. So he never actually learned how to read.

And she said, when she started imagination library was to honor her dad. Her dad was so smart, but felt crippled with the fact that he couldn’t read and write. And so [00:34:00] what she did is she started imagination library, which is a book gifting program that mails free high-quality books to children from birth to age five, no matter how much money you make.

So you could be dirt poor, or you could be well off. They’re going to mail you a book cause it doesn’t matter to her. So by 2003, they’d mailed over a million books, which is an insane amount. And it started out with her just doing it for locally and severe County because she wanted people where she was from to be able to learn how to read.

One way of doing that is providing them with materials to be able to learn how to do that. So I thought that was a, it’s a really, really great program. And it’s something that I think is both. Personal to her, but also something that is really impactful on people’s lives. I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, my mom really emphasized reading a lot to the point where if I read 50 books in the summer, she was going to buy me the new Pokemon game boy game.

And by God, John, I read [00:35:00] 50 books at summit. Well, no, uh, I hated reading. Uh, I thought it was terrible. Uh, I did it only when I was bribed, uh, so that I do, I guess I have that similar portion of it. Um, like accelerated reader. Now I went to town on that, but I also am guilty of just taking tests without reading.

I mean, we all, we’ve all done that. I did it when Harry Potter came out, passed the first one, didn’t read it passed the first one, got all those points. So all I cared about, I took the test on Moby Dick because it was the highest point book that you can take it on it. And I failed the shit out of that.

Same Zimmer ex never. Well, on a serious note though, I think imagination library is such a good thing and it’s something where it’s not just throwing money at something it’s, it’s a targeted purpose with, uh, with a philanthropic program. And she did it because like she [00:36:00] wanted kids to have. What her dad couldn’t have.

That was really cool. One thing she said, her dad, I think died in 2000, but she had started at, I believe it was like 98 maybe. She wanted him to at least be a part of it. So she said that he got to live long enough to hear the kids call her the book lady. And that really meant a lot to her.

Which I thought was a really kind of a beautiful thing. I will never understand, like how people don’t see Dolly as a really good person. I mean, it just blows my mind. Like, again, those aren’t her kids, like that’s, she didn’t have to do that. And the fact is, you know, she could have done, she could have been like a lot of people, which I don’t want to call out like professional athletes.

Cause I love sports, but I’m going to call it professional athletes. Right. So like instead of. Going and buying, uh, you know, instead of of creating this, this great, you know, um, thing for kids because of her [00:37:00] dad. Right. She dedicated that to her dad. Now there are athletes that do this so broad and James is, I mean, he started a school.

Don’t get me wrong, but there are also a lot of athletes who would simply buy their parents a house for instance. And then, and that would be like what they would do. And that’d be like how they get back to their pants, which is great. But Dolly, pardon was like, wait a second. I can take my dad’s legacy.

The person that I, I love the most, who I respect the most and who I want to make proud before he passes away. And instead of just give him everything, you know, monetarily, I’m going to, I’m going to create this foundation that changes people’s lives every single day. And I’m going to, I’m going to dedicate to him and that’s going to create change even whenever both of us are gone.

Yeah. Yeah. You may get an, and it’s funny that you mentioned that, cause she also bought him a nice brand new truck because that was what he always really wanted. So I thought that was cool too. Um, but she didn’t stop there. Right? Well, I don’t think it changes your point because that’s something that probably, I think I don’t, I’m not like inferring [00:38:00] things.

I think this was also written about as that. I think it was something that probably meant. The world to him that she did that. One of the other things I wanted to mention about her with just giving back to her community and like in a real way, is in the imagination. Library is part of the Dollywood foundation, which she created in 1988.

And the whole idea of it was to inspire children in her home County to achieve educational success. That’s kind of like her. Her Mo is to help people back where she’s from. And so this was, John was an incredible statistic. Um, there was a pretty high dropout rate in. One of the, in the severe, real severe County high school, I guess is what it was.

It was, I think it was the high school that she, um, graduated from. And so initially she focused the foundation on decreasing the dropout rate and the high school. And so the early nineties, Dolly promised every seventh grade and eighth grade student, she would personally give them $500 if they graduated from high school.

[00:39:00] So you started planting that in their heads at seventh and eighth grade, the effort it came to be known as the buddy program reduced the dropout rate for those two classes of students from 35% to 6%, there’s only one time in history that I can say that those statistics were be from, you know, high school dropout to high school graduation based off one promise.

There’s only one time I can think of. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this foundation. Uh, I think it was around 2000 and 2006 seven May, 2009, whatever it was called. Scott’s tots.

I was just about to say, like, I think I’ve heard of that. And I’m like, God damn it. It’s a reference to the office from John. He promises, he promises this whole class. I think they graduate, don’t pay for their colleges. This [00:40:00] is a guy who makes 50 grand a year can’t pay for anything. So he gets some laptop battery, thankfully, uh, that was not what the Dollywood foundation did.

True. I just, they all grow well, you know, that’s what, yeah, no, that’s a, that was, that was funny. Um, well, the other thing I was going to say is that she also established a $15,000 scholarship awarded annually at each high school, um, where she’s from for students who quote have a dream they wish to pursue and who can successfully communicate their plans and commitments to realize their dreams.

And I think that I, through all this. What’s so interesting and important, I think just really speaks to the kind of person she is, is it’s all purposefully done. It’s not just like I’m going to do a scholarship just for the hell of it. It’s because she wants people to dream. Like she dreamed and realized that, you know, you [00:41:00] can come from a two room cabin with no electricity to the most profitable country music, the female country music star in the history of the world.

And, um, and so that’s impressive. And, and, and I think it’s worth highlighting and the name Jim Dollywood, by the way, we should mention Dollywood being the theme park that is in pigeon forge that you alluded to earlier that she, um, she didn’t create it, but she bought a controlling interest in, I believe, and then changed it.

With and, and kind of like obviously made a Dollywood, the theme of that and everything. And, and I, she did mention that one of the reasons why she wanted to do that is, is another impact she wanted to leave on her community was to be able to. To do something that could help people long-term would be to create jobs.

And that’s a, certainly a good way to do it. Um, now in, in, like you said, there’s always people that will say, well, the wages aren’t high enough and not maybe a very legitimate thing. And it’s also a problem, the star country, and that’s fine. She’s not a perfect person. [00:42:00] And, um, and so that’s worth, you know, pointing out, but your thoughts.

Yeah. I mean, look, I’m not going to get down that, um, That rabbit hole, but look, you know who else doesn’t have very high wages. Chuck Wal-Mart look at, look at what that family has done for people, nothing like that. They have, they have fake foundations that they just roll tax money through, but they, they don’t care about people like they they’ve made that.

Very obvious and they’ve continued to do that. And that’s why, you know, what is it? 40% of their entire workforce is on government assistance. Don’t know the statistics behind Dollywood, but I would venture to guess it’s not that plus somebody who has, I would say what one, 1000th of the. Maybe more, I don’t know, one, 500.

She does not have anywhere close to the amount, the money. They shouldn’t have any money [00:43:00] and she’s still doing far more. That’s sad. That is extremely sad based on that family, but she’s still trying. Yeah. Well, and I think too, She’s really put her money deliberately into her community because our community was a poor community and Appalachia and one that has a lot of potentials.

And that is a really wonderful place to a severe volt, severe County, um, Knox County. That area is so beautiful, but it is part of Appalachia and one that economically has struggled a lot. So, you know, there it’s, it’s important to put that also into context too. Um, One last thing I wanted to bring up about her.

And then we can kind of just talk generally is there was, um, this was back in 2016 and actually this is a, um, sort of a Dolly experimenting with UBI a little bit universal, basic income in a way. Uh, is that in 2016, there was these huge fires. I [00:44:00] don’t know if you remember this, but they swept through the smoky mountains and just like destroyed a bunch of places in severe County and pigeon forge and Gatlinburg essentially shut those, that entire tourism economy down for a while.

Like the buyers were so horrible. So you can, you can look up some of the videos from them. They looked like fricking Dante is peak. It was, it was terrifying. And so a lot of families. Um, over a thousand families lost their homes, right? So what she did is she established a fund called the, my people fund, where she started.

Um, I think she put some money into it and then the fund itself raised money as well, but she was able to give a thousand dollars per month for six months to families who lost their primary residence. So, and that’s an important distinction by the way, primary residence. It wasn’t necessarily given to people who had a vacation home in the smokey mountains.

It was to people who live there and made their life their a thousand dollars per month for six months, which was sure a huge deal for this people. And the fund itself ultimately raised over [00:45:00] $411 million, which is a lot of money. And if you’ve been keeping track at home, the federal government hasn’t even allowed people to have a thousand dollars a month for six months.

Exactly. Exactly. And there’s been plenty of people that have lost their homes in the United States in the past year, because it’s sort of lost and everything else, foster business. Yeah. And lost shit, lost their family members. I mean like the, the fact is like Dolly Parton as this one person. Has proven that she is more effective, more willing to give and is able to streamline it better than the entire United States.

Congress has over the last year. That blows my mind that Dolly Parton should walk into Congress and say, if I can do this, why can’t you? But you know what? She won’t because she’s too nice because Dolly Parton is a Saint in my book. Uh, the fact is [00:46:00] like, She should be the threshold that Congress looks at, or even some of these politicians who are arguing for like UBI or even arguing just for better stimulus checks.

They should point to that. in my opinion, like, look, Dolly Parton has nowhere near the money of the United States. Right? We get that, but she was able to successfully do this, help these people get out of this terrible situation and we’re arguing over $1,400. What are we doing? It’s it’s ridiculous. I’m sure we’ll have some stuff to say about that, but, uh, yeah, it’s, it’s stupid.

It shows that like, you know, somebody with money stepped in, and actually it actually made a difference. And. If we had more people doing that, it would be less devastating when the government comes and says, we’re only giving you $1,400. It’s fricking Jeff Bezos did that. And actually, you know, did something good with his [00:47:00] money like that, that could, you know, change the lives of a lot of people, but know we are anyway.

I wanted to point that out because, and he can’t even sing well, I mean, I can’t sing, but. No, I’m just saying, do I pardon? Beat them in every aspect? Um, yeah. So there you go there, you have it. I mean, that’s, you know, those were the things I wanted to highlight about Dolly. I mean, obviously, she funded money for the Madrona vaccine.

I’ll also say this in times where Dolly has had to make corrections she’s done it. And, and one of the, you know, one of the criticisms that people bring up is she had this dinner theater called Dixie Stampede in Pigeon Forge. And obviously, Dixie is sort of a name that, uh, conjures up a lot of bad things about the.

You know, the civil war South, and it was a civil war themed attraction, and they’ve made changes to [00:48:00] that as they changed the name. I believe that, um, it’s no longer what it used to be with the North and the South, because, you know, she faced criticism for it, rightly so, and, and decided to make that change and, you know, and nobody’s perfect.

And Dolly did it, you know, when it comes to criticism about her stuff like that, she makes the correction because that’s what Dolly does because she’s like human with a soul. I’m going to take heat for this. Okay. I feel like I say that every episode now, but I just, um, people are not gonna like this. People hear that I’m actually going to be taking heat for something people don’t like when this is said, but let’s, let’s look at the reality of things.

Okay. When Dolly Parton was growing up and whenever she was becoming successful, it was a far different time than what it is now. Had a lot of things were different. Like the word, the word Dixie for instance, was a lot different than what we look at it as now, because I believe now we’re a much more educated society, but at that time that’s not what was going [00:49:00] on now.

Fast-forward. To 2021. Dolly said, you know what I have to learn because this year you’re right. We’ve now developed into a different type of society. We’re now more educated. We are changing the way that things need to be done. I messed up like that. She takes full credit for it. She does the changes she’s she needs them.

Her response could have been a lot different if you, I mean, Dolly had looked at, look at James Woods. I mean that that’s a dude that he’s never been. Yeah. That’s definitely a different way of responding. Right? Like he just got worse and that’s what a lot of people have done, but Dolly hasn’t Dolly could have put her feet.

Dolly could have said, Nope, that’s not what it means. You know, I’m keeping it the way it is. You know, I’m not advancing. She didn’t do that. Instead, she took one on the chin. I shouldn’t have done this. I’m changing it now because I’ve learned that this is wrong and I’m moving on.

And to me that takes a big [00:50:00] person because I know for a fact like somebody just walked up to me or if there was an article written about me that said, you know, something that I did was wrong and maybe I didn’t see it that way. I don’t know if I’d be as, as ready to jump on the other side of things, but she was because she’s, you know, she’s a baby.

Yeah. Yeah. And I think she understands. You know, the context of things like that. She isn’t someone who’s afraid to admit a mistake or admit that they need to change something. I think we need more people like that just in general. And I’ve tried to be more like that. I’ve tried to take ownership when I make mistakes just in general in life.

And I feel like if more people did that we’d live in a better society. If people were more willing to look at themselves and. It’s a two-way street, right? Like, like Twitter and outsiders and keyboard warriors now are very willing to, to rip people down. But I think there’s also that other [00:51:00] side of things where people have now become so entrenched in their ways that they think that it’s the only right way.

So we’re at this weird impasse where like, People want to rip you down and you’re doing everything you can to make sure that you, that they know what they’re, that you don’t, you don’t care what they’re saying. And I think that that is this w you know, where we are, the society, Dolly Parton, hasn’t become part of that.

She’s not toxic. She doesn’t become part of that toxic environment. Look, another 70 year old. I should mention Donald Trump. I mean, it could look, I could continue to go on and on, but, you know, and, and you can’t tell me that like all well, it’s, it’s this upbringing, because if you look at the stereotypical upbringing that Dolly Parton would’ve gone through, you would have said that she would think like Dolly, or like Donald Trump, guess what she doesn’t, she’s proven that she’s proven that she’s a bigger, much bigger person than Donald Trump, but she’s also proving that she’s a much bigger person than a lot of people.

And so to me, I don’t think a lot of this. Quote, unquote backlash from, uh, some, some people, uh, it is fair. I think it’s, [00:52:00] it’s misguided hate. Uh, that’s being used for clicks, uh, because people don’t have enough to talk about and they know that there are people on, uh, you know, at one end of the school spectrum who think like that and who are going to click on that, they’re going to watch the YouTube video.

They’re going to, they’re going to turn on the podcast. They’re going to read the article even though. 79% of the rest of the people look at Dolly and say, what are you talking about? Yeah, that is true. But you know, I think that’s a good place to, to cap off our discussion about Lake. Why do I do have one random factor that I have to tell you?

Okay. Let it rip Dolly Parton. She entered a Dolly Parton, lookalike contest and lost, uh, so Dollywood in, she kind of, she kind of like, um, Exaggerated her looks, you know what I mean? Like she, she made her hair different and stuff like that, but she lost and it’s just crazy. I mean, that, that to me is nuts.

Could you imagine [00:53:00] losing kids? Could, could you imagine that, like you walk in all right. Today’s the, uh, the Chuck Cora lookalike contest and you, yeah. And you don’t wait, I’ll be pretty upset if I lost a lookalike complex. Yeah. I think through my head, I’d be like, wait a second. Have I gotten like uglier?

Or have I gotten like worse looking? Have I gotten so bad that people don’t recognize me? Which are all very possible things in my case. I mean, listen, half of our listeners think I’m, I’m 45, Chuck. I had a really long beef planned out. Okay. But I’m going to revert that you can go check out Twitter. I’m sure I’m tweeting about it right now.

It has to deal with Joe Manchin and you probably heard about it enough. I’ve seen him talking on every Sunday morning show that he, you know, that he could get his hands on. Uh, so go check it out on Twitter. I’m sure I’m making jokes or at least the iPod latch a Twitter account is, but I did want to say I got my first shot of the, uh, Madonna.

You know, the [00:54:00] Jolene vaccine is what we call it here at iPod. Latcha it? Uh, Look, I didn’t have any side effects, but I will say I did have a headache. I call it. I’m not calling that side effect. Cause I don’t know if it is why my wife got it. She has a big lump on her arm. Uh, so I will warn you of that. But what I have taken it, if I knew all of that, yes.

Will I get the second dose? Yes, I think everybody should. Uh I’m you know, I’m still advocating for that. Hopefully you have access to it or you’re going to get access to it. Um, but that’s about it. Chuck. I just wanted to bring that up. Wanted to let people know about what’s going on. But really, I think that was a solid episode.

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