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

Sunday, October 18, 2015

WWII Letter - Kiss Me Again, Betty!

Shirlie received tons of letters from her fans and friends when so many were away from home during WWII. This one is from her friend Phylis Jung, who worked in US Army Recruiting in Washington DC in 1943. Phil's letter is interesting for a few reasons:

The cartoons are terrific ... both inside and out. The corny guy at the top of the letter is soooo 1940s! Ant the soldier sleeping under the tree? What can I say except ... go ahead Betty, give 'em another kiss!

Phil also makes it clear that she is loving her job ... even with the weird hours and busy schedule ... and loves Washington DC.

Probably the most significant part of the letter are her comments about mutual friends: "I received a letter from Tom Coleman's mom. He's in Australia - sick with malaria. ... Matt Brazil is a prisoner of war over in Italy ..... and Ted Halden is going over seas soon ..." 

These people were tough ... mentally. The whole country was behind the war, giving up products and materials, working in jobs supporting the war effort and putting up with rationing. They signed up for the military ... women and men ... and went where they were needed. This was all a little before my time, but Shirlie was in the middle of it. While she was on the home front, she did her part to cheer up the troops with letters, photographs and cookies!