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

Monday, December 14, 2015

San Jose's Electric Light Tower

A Century Ago San Jose's Famous Electric Tower Collapsed!

In May of 1881 J. J. Owen, editor of the San José Mercury, suggested a project to light up the city of San Jose and surrounding areas with lights attached to a gigantic 237-foot tower. On Dec 13th he saw the culmination of his bright idea with the lighting of the tower in the intersection of Santa Clara and Market Streets. While interesting and visually spectacular, the tower was a bust as far as illuminating the valley. But the tower was a landmark and brought folks into the little country town south of The City ... San Francisco. Unfortunately, the tower was damaged in an August storm in 1915 and collapsed in another storm on December 3rd 1915. Fortunately no-one was hurt ... except for some egos!

Here are a couple of postcards we have from 1911 with the famous San Jose Electric Tower on them. One of them has a message to Shirlie's mom ... Mantie Beuck ... when she was living in San Francisco before she married Rea.

For more about the story of San Jose's Electric Light Tower see these two sites:
History San Jose
The Soft Underbelly of San Jose

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