TAYLOR -- Clifford Page's meager beginnings as the son of a farmer, who also provided for his 11 children by moonshining and boot legging, didn't stop him from becoming mayor of Taylor.
He became the mayor in the town of more than 500 on January 1. He won the race against incumbent Charles Matlock in a runoff election this November.
"I won with 105 to 90 votes -- that's 15 votes different," he said. "That means a lot of people were satisfied with what they had and I want to show everyone that I will treat them good and fair. I want everyone to give me a chance and they will find out that I'm an honest feller and I only want what is best for the people of Taylor. I want to pull us together -- all of us, everybody."
Page began his life a few miles north of Taylor on a 40-acre farm in the community of Friendship-Sharman. Page's parents had 10 boys and one girl and the family lived off the cotton, corn and animals raised on the land. Page said his father supplemented the family income by selling moonshine but never allowed the children to participate in the business in any way because of the risks involved.
Instead the children would farm and each fall, they would work with their neighbors to kill and prepare animals that would feed them throughout the year.
"It was pretty amazing how everyone would come together for hog killing time in the fall," he said.
Although he realizes this particular part of life in and around Taylor is part of yesteryear, he would like Taylor's citizens to come together to accomplish different projects in the town, he said.
Taylor said he was 65 and bored at his home when his friends started telling him he needed to run for mayor. He had previously worked five years as a water and sewer operator under the former administration, but said he had been fired for insubordination.
This definitely made him carefully consider running for the office of mayor, he said.
"I had no idea I even wanted to be mayor, but I just kept praying to God and he kept telling me, 'do it, do it,' " Page said. "I just wanted my community to get back together as one and help one another and be together. We have an excellent school I know you have to be aware of, excellent churches, a good VFW -- and we would like to make it great -- and we want the county to work with us. I know the county judge and the sheriff."
One of the main points that Taylor's citizens should be on the same page about is the sewage system, he said.
"It's a major catastrophe," he said.
Grants are needed for both the sewage system and the collection system as leaks are in the manholes.
"We have to address it -- if we don't the EPA is going to come in and address it for us," he said.
Something else Page would like to see in Taylor is to see a field build for the summer league baseball program and a soccer field for the children.
Page said his pet project would be getting a new sidewalk built from the four-way stop sign in downtown Taylor to the school because the current sidewalk is in bad shape.
He said he is looking forward to working with the new council – four of the six members will be first-timers like himself.
"We will work through it and if we make mistakes we will correct it," he said.
While waiting to take office, Page, an Army veteran, has been spending time at the VFW 8124 in Taylor, helping other volunteers renovate the property to make it a place of community gatherings.
For Christmas, Page played Santa Claus and more than 40 children came to tell him what was on their wish list. He would like it to become a place where families are more drawn to instead of the being known as a bingo and dance hall; the way VFW's of the past were often known. Bingo will still be played there but he doesn't want to limit it to that and there will no longer be alcohol sold on the property.
The renovations being done by the volunteers are thanks to a $4,000 grant provided by the Home Depot which has supplied the materials needed for the VFW's face lift. Page said he thinks it’s important to keep the VFW's alive.
"They are becoming a thing of the past -- Magnolia lost theirs," he said. "We will be back to get more grant money."
Laurie Bradley, one of the helpers working to give the VFW needed renovations, and a neighbor of Page's said she thinks he will be more open to hearing about problems with water and sewage issues like the water meter cover she needs and the drainage problems left by a former owner of her home.
"I think Clifford is a good listener and has got an open-door policy," Bradley said.
Page said he wants the citizens of Taylor to depend on each other as the people in Friendship Sherman once did.
"I want for us to all grow together and love God and help one another," he said.