2200. I Spied: Dolly Parton

(Often on a round numbered story I deviate into non-fictional truth. What better story number than the round-figured 2200 to try a new feature? I thought for variety – at least for a time – I will each Monday introduce a famous person I have seen – albeit at a distance! Who better to start with than Dolly Parton?)

It was near Christmas in 1985. I was heading to Boston, U.S.A., to study for a Master’s degree. After a sixteen hour flight from New Zealand (including in those days a refuelling in Hawai’i) I landed in LA. I had planned several days in LA. The Travel Agency in New Zealand had told me what to do once in LA Airport. I should go out the main door and there were shuttle buses. Board such and such a bus and it will take you to your hotel.

I was clutching a fat sealed envelope from the American Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand. It contained my student visa. It was stamped with “Under no circumstances must this be opened”. Was I to be expelled before I had even arrived? Upon arrival in LA I was ushered into a small room with a counter. They took the envelope and my passport and disappeared – for three hours. I was becoming a little stressed! Someone eventually appeared, handed me my passport, and said “That’s ok”. I exited the room to a dark and almost empty airport. And… no waiting shuttle buses.

When one is younger such things don’t matter. I found a bus somewhere that took me to Anaheim. In fact, since I was the only one in the huge bus the driver took me all the way to my hotel! That was my first experience of the wonderful hospitality Americans are renowned for.

I couldn’t believe I was in a foreign country! I remember looking out the window into the night and thinking “I’m here! I’m really here!” Tired, I went to bed only to be woken by the phone ringing in my room around midnight. It was the hotel receptionist: “The women you ordered for the night has been held up and won’t be able to make it.” Pardon? “Is your name Bryce?” No, it’s Bruce. “Oh sorry.” It wasn’t to be the only time my accent caused confusion.

Over the next several days I had a fabulous time. I went to Disneyland. There was hardly anyone there and I went on every ride and everything else without once having to wait in line. In fact I went around “It’s a Small World” seven times! My favourite bit of all Disneyland was to be greeted at the entrance by the Queen of Hearts. She warmly shook my hand and then wiped her hand on her dress in utter disgust. I thought it was hilarious, and it set the tone for a brilliant day.

I visited the Spruce Goose and the Queen Mary. They were in Long Beach back in those days.

I took a tour in a Tourist Bus to Hollywood and Beverly Hills – including the Studio. Most of the names I didn’t recognize because I’m not a great celebrity person. “And there to our right is the courthouse,” said the guide. “Goodness! That’s Dolly Parton on the courthouse steps!”

And indeed it was! Our bus moved on. But I have seen that fabulously talented and generous woman…

Dolly Parton!

30 thoughts on “2200. I Spied: Dolly Parton

  1. Herb

    My uncle got to meet Dolly Parton in person one time and spoke with her for a few minutes. I don’t recall the circumstances. He said she was the most down-to-earth and real person he had ever met and never expected a celebrity to be that way. He had many of her albums after that.

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  2. Nitin Lalit Murali

    Such a great reflection Bruce. I love reading stuff like this by you. Whatever happened to Bryce and the women he ordered? What did Dolly eat for dinner that night? Did the queen of hearts get over being repulsed? So many questions.

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  3. judyrutrider

    I almost met Hoyt Axton. A friend of my husband’s invited us to a concert he was promoting. At intermission, the friend took my husband back stage to meet the down-to-earth performer and all my husband could say to the artist was, “My wife is a big fan”.

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  4. badfinger20 (Max)

    I’ve talked to Don Williams and Loretta Lynn but that is it in the country music field…but not Dolly…not even from a bus!

    I can honestly say I met and talked to an ex- Beatle.

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      1. badfinger20 (Max)

        It’s a trick answer but it’s…real! I met Pete Best in the 80s…and talked to him…yes he was a Beatle for 2 years and they kicked him out and Ringo joined.

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          1. badfinger20 (Max)

            I shouldn’t word it like that but it meant a lot to me though. I always felt for him but he never seemed to fit in with them. He did get a giant payoff in the 90s with the Anthology series…so that was good anyway.

            Loretta Lynn was one of the nicest people I ever met…I had breakfast with her and Williams lived in my small town.

            I would LOVE to see Dolly even from a distance.

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            1. Bruce Goodman Post author

              Gosh! Undoubtedly some of their charisma rubbed off on you! I knew well – in NC – the 5 daughters and son’s widow of Bascom Lamar Lunsford. He was dead by then and the daughters were in their 80s – but he founded the Appalachian Folk Music Festivals and “saved” the Appalachian music from extinction. I have a blog story about it in a month or so. Some of the daughters would get me to come over (I lived next door) when they couldn’t pull the cork out of the wine bottle.

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              1. badfinger20 (Max)

                I wish! All of them were nice.

                Wow he got involved with about everything from music to politics. I’ve read some about him. I’ll be looking forward to that. Bruce. I love that type of music.
                Now that is a cool story on how you met them all because of a cork!

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    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Apparently there weren’t many people there because it was the day before a public holiday when it would be overwhelmed. I don’t understand the logic of that, but that’s what I was told.

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