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 27, 2015

Train Trip to Arizona in 1938



In October of 1938 Shirlie took a trip aboard the Southern Pacific Railroad from San Jose to Phoenix and points beyond. In her usual fashion, Shirlie made a party out of it! Really!


She writes to her parents:

Dear Mom & Dad --
Watta trip! What a trip! I only got six hours of sleep last night, but I feel swell and I know practically everybody on the train.

(Bill just said to say "Hello")

We're going thru the desert now -- all sage-brush and blue sky and purple mountains. From one side you can see sand & sagebrush but on the other is the Salton Sea (so somebody says). Anyway -- it's a big body of water right smack in the middle of nothing and it's sparkling silver in the sun.

By the way, I'm doin' fine. Had dinner (again) last night, a couple of cokes later in the club car and breakfast this morning -- and I haven't even opened my purse yet!

I'll drop you a card from Phoenix, later -- Lots of love, Shirlie

Shirlie was just a few months past her 20th birthday ... thus the "coke" ... or at least that's what she wrote to her parents!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Shirlie Montgomery: Picturing San Jose Since 1938 ... Online Exhibit



Did you miss the Shirlie Montgomery: Picturing San Jose Since 1938 exhibit last year at History San Jose? The folks over at HSJ have reformatted the exhibit into an on-line exhibit through their partnership with Google Cultural Institute. HSJ archivist Cate Mills did a great job. Check it out, you will enjoy it.