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

Friday, February 1, 2013

American Legion School Award

Shirlie was an avid reader, a pretty darn good writer (having won the San Jose Mercury youth writing contest several times) and active in extracurricular programs at school. For all the years that I knew her, she had this large medallion on an easel in her display case, along with a photo of her grandmother and her cherished Mexican animal knick-knacks.

The medallion is the American Legion School Award. She got this award when graduating from the eight grade in 1932. It was awarded by the American Legion to students who not only demonstrated scholastic excellence, but also community and patriotic fervor. Awarded to the boy or girl "who best represents those qualities of character and ability, which we believe, when properly cultivated and matured, will result in worthy citizenship and well rounded manhood and womanhood."

This particular medal was designed by R. Tait McKenzie in 1925 and made by Medallic Art Co. of New York. This design was presented to girl awardees until 1951 when the design was changed. There was a different design for boys and a smaller medal attached to a ribbon as well. 

According to a 1937 brochure on the School Award program the following short address was used in the declaration of the girl receiving the girl’s medal:

Little lady, in giving you The American Legion School Award, we are conferring upon you an honor which should never be entrusted to anyone but that of the noblest character, highest ideals and the most tender sympathy. The soldiers who fought for you during the World War believe that your mind and soul are of a quality to realize the responsibility that you have in always living and acting by those rules of conduct, and the faith in the goodness of God, which make a good woman earth’s highest treasure, and man‘s noblest inspiration. We want you to ever bear in mind that the country can never rise higher than the soul of its womanhood. We want you to know that we have complete faith in the majesty of your mind, and the goodness of your heart. And now and ever, may the strong love of God Almighty abide within your bosom, and, like an armed band of invincible and immortal warriors, guard and guide your soul.

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