Photo by Sue Watson
Carole Jean Taylor
File photo by Barry Burleson
Minnie Mouse (Carole Jean Taylor) has brought lots of smiles to young and old alike during her many years of walking the Holly Springs Christmas Parade route.
Taylor grand marshal for Holly Springs parade
Carole Jean Taylor was still pinching herself hours after receiving a call inviting her to be the grand marshal for the Holly Springs Christmas Parade, Saturday, Dec. 3, at 5 p.m.
Being in the parade is nothing unusual for her. She has played Minnie Mouse for many years, beginning back when her late husband Johnny Taylor was elected chancery clerk.
They rented official Disney costumes. She was Minnie, Johnny was Mickey, and Tripp was Donald Duck. His friends dressed in Disney costumes as well for the Holly Springs Christmas Parade.
Taylor said she is used to zigzagging down the street but this time she will be riding.
“I got the call from Tim Liddy,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it. They (the Holly Springs Main Street Chamber) wanted me to be grand marshal. I never expected anything like that.
“It’s my birthday. It will be the first time I will be riding instead of running from side to side. A total surprise.”
But maybe not a total surprise for a former grand marshal and friend Lois Swaney Shipp. When Shipp was moving out of her house to go to Oxford, she called Taylor to come to the back of her car. In the car was the white coat and shoes that Lois Swaney Shipp wore when she was grand marshal.
Shipp is a good friend and someone Taylor said she admires.
“Lois is one of my idols,” Taylor said. “I just love her. She is so kind and always fun.
“I had two other role models – Gertrude McAlexander and Mary Doxey, the person who made me get so involved in music.
“There are so many wonderful people in this town. I still haven’t gotten over the phone call.”
Taylor was born in Holly Springs in 1939 and has lived in the town on and off as an adult.
She was born Carole Jean Brown, the daughter of Leon and Nina Mills Brown. Her father worked for Wells Funeral Home.
Her parents were lots of fun, she said. She also has a brother, Bill Brown, who lives in Texas who she said “is always there for me.”
“God has blessed me many ways all through life, but one of the greatest blessings is my children and my grandchildren – Steve (Kathy), Suzanne (Johnny), Tripp (Robyn), Elgin, Emma, Stephen, Mitchell, Dallten and Lowery.”
While growing up, her family lived in a little white house next to the Van Dorn Hotel (old superintendent of education’s office) on three different occasions. When she was age 8 or 9 the town had dances in the hotel and bands would play until late in the night. Men wore tuxedos and women arrived in long evening gowns. Little Carole Jean sat in the open window and watched the guests come and go and listened to all the music and chatter.
“I would have given anything to go in,” she said. “I stayed up until the bitter end. All the windows were open in the summer. I could hear everything. I have had the happiest life in this town. It’s nice to grow up in a small town, too.”
In junior high, she took her first job working for her uncle at Barnett’s Dry Goods, now where Sonya’s is located. Her pay was $4 a day from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m.
“I thought I had big money,” she said. “And I saved it.”
And on Christmas, Santa would come on the fire truck and sit in the gazebo on the northeast side of the square where he handed out candy to children as long as they came. The square would fill up.
“I am amazed at the things that have gone on,” Taylor said. “It used to be such a busy town.
After completing high school, she went to Mississippi University for Women where she studied business for one year. That was enough to help her get a job as a court reporter. She started working as a court reporter in circuit court in 1975, retired in 2004, but worked part-time for a while and finally gave it up.
She enjoyed being around the judges and good people and has many stories to tell while she worked for about eight different judges.
Taylor tells a story of riding with Judge Lackey to Ashland to be in court and the judge had put two large bottles of spring water in the trunk. He made a sharp turn and hit the curb. Those water bottles went everywhere. He looked down at his feet, wet, and said, ‘Well, Henry. What are you gonna do now?’ “
She has enjoyed her life and especially the years she has lived in Holly Springs. She has also lived in Memphis, Tenn., San Antonio, Texas, Germantown, Tenn., and Hazelhurst.
“I have lived in a lot of places but there is no place like home,” Taylor said.
“I’m so thankful the Lord has given me a life with a variety of trials that have made me strong. I have friends who have supported me for years in good times and bad. And nobody has ever let me down. My family is number one after my church and God. I just don’t know how I deserve all these things He has done for me.”
“I am honored. The people of this town have made me what I am. This is where I grew up and have had so much good contact with people.”