Dolly Parton: "So we thought Ringgold" - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dolly Parton: "So we thought Ringgold"

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Just about everyone around the Tennessee Valley is familiar with Dolly Parton and her career.

She's in the process of writing her life story and planning a musical of her autobiography.

Something you may not be familiar with is the story of her marriage to Carl Dean 46 years ago in Ringgold.

Dolly sat down with Channel and shared details that she's never revealed before.

It was sort of a media circus, because reporters from all over were given an opportunity to sit down with dolly. But she was unfazed, as usual.

Maybe it was the atmosphere of a homecoming celebration starring Dolly in her beloved home of Pigeon Forge and Dollywood. And we found her more candid than perhaps ever before.  

A lot of people in our area know Dolly and Carl Dean were married in Ringgold, but many assume it was at the courthouse or a wedding chapel.

But she sets the record straight.

"I met him the day I got to Nashville, and we dated for two years," Dolly says. "At that time, I was working with Fred Foster, who owned Monument Records and Combine Music. He was going to put some money behind me, to make me a star." 

But Foster didn't want her to get married.

"I was engaged," Dolly says. "He asked me not to get married."

"He said it'll make it so much harder if you're married with all this promotion," adds Dolly.

"My mother-in-law had already sent out invitations," Dolly says. "It broke her heart, because I said we had to call the wedding off."   

"But we went that next weekend, sneaked out because we didn't want to go anywhere close by, like in Bryson City, North Carolina," she says. "So we thought Ringgold, because we knew that was where you could get your license and get married the same day."  

"And they said, ‘you have to get married in the courthouse'," Dolly recalls. "I said, ‘I am not getting married in the courthouse. I am getting married in the church'."

So Dolly and Carl got their license and went back home to get her mother.

"I said, ‘I've got to have momma there'," Dolly says. "So I had bought a little dress, momma had bought me a Bible, some flowers on it. We grabbed momma and went back, and got married on a Monday, in a church."

"We found a pastor, neither one of us were Baptist," she says. "My dad's people were, so I'd been to a lot of Baptist churches. So we got married in the Baptist there."

The couple was married by Pastor Don Duvall, who Dolly says passed away not long ago.  

"Ringgold Baptist Church right there in the center of town, big red church," she says.

"It was just the pastor and his wife with a witness and my mother and Carl and I, and we took momma back to the bus station in Chattanooga so she could ride on back to Knoxville," Dolly says. "So she wouldn't be on our so-called honeymoon, which was a few hours and we both had to go back to work the next morning."

"I do have an anniversary on the 30th of May and last weekend we went to Ringgold," Dolly says. "We hadn't been down there since the tornado."

"We try to go down there every year, if we can," Dolly says. "We at least go every three years. We take a trip down there and take a picnic."

And, they make other stops while they are here.

"Chattanooga's great, we love Lookout Mountain, we love doing all that, "she says. "When we go to Ringgold, we just kind of make that a whole weekend trip." 

Her husband lived in East Ridge and on Missionary Ridge as a child, and they enjoy checking out his old stomping grounds.

"So it's a wonderful area and then a short trip over to Ringgold," Dolly says.

But we never hear about them being here.

"They never know that we're there," she says. "We have a little RV camper that we travel around in. We stop and I'm not totally in my rhinestones. I put on little makeup for my husband, I usually have my own hair, just put it up in a little scrunchy or something."

"But you wouldn't think about it, you just don't see me," she continues. "But if you hear me and see me up close, you know it's me."

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