January 12, 2021

Sally at Six

PROUD TO BE A HILLBILLY

Why would anyone save this dark photo?  Our family didn’t take many photos—not a single one for any Christmas—but for some strange reason there are multiple copies of this one.  We were living in the “log house” on Decatur Pike then and my sister Tootsie lived across the road in the “brick house.”  Her two older sons Jerry and Joe were my constant playmates.  When I was six, they were 4 and 5.  On this day, we were playing in their front yard, and Tootsie took the picture.

Maybe she wanted to document that little Sally wasn’t always neat and clean, prim and proper.  I was obviously perfectly happy to be barefoot, with my braids falling and in a less than fancy skirt and blouse. Some years ago at an Eaves family reunion, my niece Pat laughed about how she and Jerry loved playing pranks and roughhousing but didn’t include “goody two shoes” Sally. 

My parents did expect me to be a “little lady” and my mother loved sewing dresses for me and struggled to curl my straight blonde hair. I was expected to look and act the part. And then I was Jerry and Joe’s aunt—well, half-aunt to be precise—and that role required some bossiness and dignity.  It was complicated.

I love this photo because in it I look like a regular kid—a bit of an urchin—a barefoot hillbilly.  I’m sure Dolly Parton has quite a few photos of herself looking much like Sally at six.  Just a little Tennessee girl being herself—and loving every minute of it.

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