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February 10, 2023

Loretta Lynn and Doo: Child Marriage in Coal Mining Country

Loretta Lynn and Doo married in 1948 when he was 21 and she 15. When she was 21, Doo purchased Loretta a $17 Harmony guitar, which she taught herself to play while leaning up against their outhouse. Within a few years, he encouraged her to become a singer. Loretta and Doo would sustain a notoriously tumultuous marriage on up until his death in 1996.

In her 2002 autobiography, Still Woman Enough, and in an interview with CBS News the same year, she recounted how her husband cheated on her regularly and once left her while she was giving birth. Lynn and her husband fought frequently, but she said that “he never hit me one time that I didn’t hit him back twice.” Loretta said that her marriage was “one of the hardest love stories.” In one of her autobiographies, she recalled:
“I married Doo when I wasn’t but a child, and he was my life from that day on. But as important as my youth and upbringing was, there’s something else that made me stick to Doo. He thought I was something special, more special than anyone else in the world, and never let me forget it. That belief would be hard to shove out the door. Doo was my security, my safety net. And just remember, I’m explainin’, not excusin’... Doo was a good man and a hard worker. But he was an alcoholic, and it affected our marriage all the way through.”


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