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, December 11, 2014

WWII Letter to Shirlie 1945

Here's another letter to Shirlie from one of her Danzabar "boys." This one is from January 1945. The war with Japan ended in mid-August 1945. This letter was posted from the USS Randolph when it was in dock to receive final fittings at Hunter's Point Naval Ship Yard in San Francisco before her first deployment, which was to the South Pacific. The USS Randolph was one of the Essex-class aircraft carriers built near the end of the war.  

On January 20th 1945, just ten days after this letter was written, the ship departed San Francisco for Ulithi where she launched attacks against Tokyo airfields. The carrier (designated CV-15) was active in battles throughout the Pacific Theater, including Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Japan itself. On March 11th, the Randolph suffered a kamikaze attack, taking a major hit on the starboard side aft just below the flight deck, killing 25 men and wounding 106. Fortunately, this naval pilot was not one of them. It was repaired and continued to be active through the end of the war.

This censored letter from Norman Lombard to Shirlie is very formal ... and he sent her a couple of photos of himself. It is wonderful when the letter has a face!

Dear Miss Montgomery;

I want to thank you for giving us the negative of the picture you took of us in the Danzabar. It was very kind of you and we all appreciate it.

We had a nice leave in San Jose, and enjoyed the town and the people in it. I hope you have plenty of luck in the picture business.

Sincerely, Norman Lombard. 

Letters and images from our personal collection. 

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