Here’s how a 21-year-old boy married a 16-year-old girl for under $20.
On June 8, 1943, the story goes that Shirley G Garrison was cutting wood with her father and sister when James William Smith walked up wearing his Army uniform because he was home on leave. J.W. asked Mr. Garrison if he could marry Shirley. Our grandfather said that he would need to ask Shirley’s mom. Dad never told anyone what Grannie said other than he could marry Mom. J.W. returned to the woods. Shirley laid down the saw and went to the house. Grannie gave her $20 to buy a dress for her wedding. That same day, Mom bought a new dress and a new pair of shoes with $2-$3 left over from the $20. They picked up Shirley’s sister and her husband to be witnesses.
Here’s the hysterical part. They had 3 flat tires on the way to the preacher’s house. Shirley changed clothes into her new dress in an outhouse.
Fashion Note: The dress in the picture is not Shirley’s wedding dress. There is no known photograph of it. Mom describes it as pale pink with a white eyelet lace yoke and a sash that tied in the back. She bought brown shoes.
After their wedding, they moved to Champagne, IL where J.W. would be trained as an aircraft mechanic. He would be stationed in Egypt. Our mother returned to Arkansas where she had their firstborn son while our father was away at war.
Their wedding date was June 8, 1943. They were married 59 years. The rest is history. The rest is the Smith family.