By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
VERONA – Saturday marked the 79th anniversary of the union of Vernon Presley and Gladys Smith at the old Verona City Hall.
“Nobody knew at the time that this poor little couple from east Tupelo were going to birth the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” said Julian Riley, a local historian. “It all probably didn’t take more than five minutes, but it started right here in Verona, Mississippi.”
Fans from around Lee County stopped by Verona City Park, across from the old Verona City Hall, to listen to Elvis music and watch Saturday’s re-enactment of the Presley wedding.
Scott and Linda Nichols, new Okolona residents from Fayette, Ala., were first-timers at the event.
“It’s something new,” said Scott Nichols.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever been,” his wife added. “It was great, we enjoyed it.”
The June 16, 1933, union began when family friends Marshall and Vona May Brown took Vernon and Gladys from east Tupelo to Pontotoc to get their marriage license.
“The reason they had to go to Pontotoc is because Vernon was only 17 years old and couldn’t legally marry without his parents’ permission,” Riley said. “They went to Pontotoc, lied about their age, got the marriage license and then Marshall Brown brought them back to Verona, Mississippi, where they were married by Justice of the Peace Robert Emmit Kelly. Vernon didn’t even have the three dollars to pay for the wedding. Marshall had to give him the money to do that.”
Rep. Steve Holland played the part of Kelly during the wedding re-enactment. Zac Hutcheson and Chastity Floyd pulled up to the park’s stage in an old Ford, taking the stage as Vernon Presley and Gladys Smith.
“People really enjoy coming out to the re-enactment every year,” Riley said. “They like having their picture taken with the couple.”
After the vows, Holland said, “And as they say folks, the rest is history.”
Less than three years after the wedding, Elvis Aaron Presley was born, took the world by storm and put Tupelo on the map.