Shirlie Alice Montgomery • June 9, 1918 – Nov 5, 2012

Shirlie always had her camera handy.
Shirlie Alice Montgomery was born on Chapman Street in San Jose on June 9, 1918. She was an only child. To her friends and neighbors she was a treasure trove of history. Shirlie remembered it all. She remembered the Great Depression as a child, the Second World War as a young woman, and eventually the transformation of the Santa Clara Valley from a moderately sized agricultural town to the hustle and bustle of modern Silicon Valley. The majority of her memories were supported by the thousands of photographs in her collection.
Young Shirlie Montgomery

Shirlie a few years ago from an article in the Rose Garden Resident.

She was the grandniece of San Jose’s forefather T.S. Montgomery. Shirlie lived a colorful life but professionally she photographed it with a 4X5 Speed Graphic in B&W. She was a celebrated photographer that shot Hollywood stars, U.S. Presidents and pro wrestlers. Although Shirlie did work for the S. F. Examiner and the San Jose Mercury her works remain some of the best representations of pro wrestling from the 40’s thru the 60’s. When asked about her penchant for shooting professional wrestlers she would answer “I always liked the big boys”. Such stories Shirlie had! She passed away quietly on November 5, 2012. She will never be forgotten. God rest her soul.

Obituary written by Shirlie's good friend and neighbor Joe Holt

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Picture's a Bit Hazy ... 'tho Weren't We All!

Most of the many letters I got from Shirlie are written to her by friends, lovers and family, as you might expect. However, I found this little gem. It is a letter Shirlie wrote in June 1942 to John Bricker in San Francisco. It was returned a month later "unclaimed." That mishap gives us a chance to have a little insight into the world of Shirlie, age 22.

While in later years, Shirlie was drawn to San Francisco and all its pizzaz and uniqueness, in her teens and early twenties, she would spend as much time on the Santa Cruz beaches as she could. This letter is about one of those "swims." I think the first sentence say it all, but read on:

The picture wasn't an outstanding success -- in fact, it's a bit hazy ('tho weren't we all!), but we thought that maybe you'd like to see it anyhow.

So -- here it is!

I hope you all arrived home in (at least) an able-to-move condition! Patty and I felt swell, and we've been talking ever since about what a good time we had.

Which reminds me -- Patty said to be sure and say "hello" if I sent you the picture; also give our "regards" to the rest of the kids, won't you, John?

"So long" 'til the next swim --


Click on the photo to get a larger, more readable image
Patty Howard and John Bricker (Shirlie Montgomery)
Contributed by Bob Bortfeld

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