In this May 2, 2013 photo, Paul T. Woodal Jr. poses for photos in his Barbie-pink 2008 Volkswagen Beetle adorned with photos and sayings from one of country music’s most beloved artists, Dolly Parton. (AP Photo/The Herald-Mail, Joe Crocetta)
HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Dolly Parton once said "Sometimes you just have to toot your own horn. Otherwise, nobody will know you're a-comin'."
For Paul T. Woodal Jr. of Hagerstown, his horn is attached to a Barbie-pink 2008 Volkswagen Beetle adorned with photos and sayings from one of country music's most beloved artists, Dolly Parton.
Woodal, 38, credits his mother, Faye Woodal, for introducing him to the star with the beautiful voice, big hair and bigger, well, assets.
"(My mother) introduced me to her records, her LPs," he said. "Her voice sounded like this little cartoon kid thing. And it just captured my soul and I've liked it ever since."
The 67-year-old Parton has made a name for herself in 40-plus years in the music business. She has a slew of No. 1 hits, armloads of CMAs, Grammys and both Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for singing and acting. She also has made it a point to help others. An amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., bears her name and has given jobs to her Tennessee kinfolk while her Destination Imagination program has helped combat illiteracy in her home state.
But it would be her 2009 album, "Backwoods Barbie" that would inspire Woodal to turn what was a red beetle into a pink one.
"If you would hear the song 'I'm Just a Backwoods Barbie,' some of the little lines make you giggle and laugh," said Woodal, who also bears a large tattoo of Parton on his back.
He said in the song she's making fun of herself, "her false eyelashes, her wigs, her boobs, whatever, and it's just a cute little song to giggle and laugh at."
But transforming his Beetle into a Dollymobile was a little more complicated. First, he had to find pictures from the "Backwoods Barbie" album that were big enough or could be blown up to the size he wanted.
"So whatever was on the album, I put it on the car," he said. "But there's only one picture on the back of the car that I love of Dolly. It's from her old "Rainbow" album, where she's laying down; I had to have that on there. Everything else basically came from the album."
Borrowing another one-liner from the Parton, "it takes a lot of money to look this cheap." Woodal said it cost about $1,500 to make his moving tribute to Parton. He said Mason Autobody in Waynesboro, Pa., and Star Grafx and Customizers & Creative Accents, both in Hagerstown, did the work on his car.
But the investment was all worth it when Woodal and his partner, Devin Decker, had the chance to meet Parton during one of their regular pilgrimages to Dollywood in May when she regularly visits the park.
In 2010, Woodal said he had spotted Steve Summers, who designs Parton's outfits, walking through Dollywood. Woodal said he approached Summers hoping that he could get Parton connected with the car.
"I said, 'Is there any way I can give you something from the car to sign? Or for her to sign the car?'" Woodal said. "'I can give you the keys, you can drive it to wherever she's at and sign it and bring back it.'"
Well, Summers was able to make it happen, even with Parton's busy schedule. Woodal said Parton told Summers that she wanted to not only see the car, but meet Woodal.
Woodal said they were directed on a secret road through Dollywood and to wait for her between appearances.
"Devin and I drove the car back the secret way to Dollywood and we're sitting there. And here comes the black SUV-type van thing coming up," he said. "The window comes down and she says, 'I'll be right back, I got to do something onstage. I'll be right back to look at your car," Woodal recalled. "She came back about 15 minutes later. She opened up the door, she held out her hands and said, 'Paul, come and get me.' I helped her out of the SUV. I came over and posed with it. She was staring at it. Looked at the front, looked at the back and stared all over it. Then she sat in the passenger side and leaned back and signed the inner roof of the car. It was so cool."
The car's roof still bears Parton's signature, the Sharpie she used to sign it encased in a box, along with a collection of CDs and photos of Parton.
Woodal planned to be at Dollywood last weekend for his annual visit.
"I've been going there 1992, every week she's been there. She's always there the first or second weekend of May. I'll be going back there taking her car," he said prior to his trip.
As for his pink little Dolly Parton Bug, another Dolly-ism would work: "I always just thought if you see somebody without a smile, give 'em yours." It's that basic idea that Woodal has about his car.
"I hope they see the positive side of it, get a little giggle or laugh out of it," Woodal said. "Or encourage them to go to Dollywood."
Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., http://www.herald-mail.com
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.