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

Saturday, March 26, 2016

De Anza Hotel Armed Forces Identification Menu

Back in the time of the two great wars of the 20th century, Americans took the conflicts as their own ... part of their own lives ... and supported the members of the armed forces and the war effort with their own sacrifices, diligence and lifestyles. We have seen and read of how the American women took to the factories to free their men to go off to fight; of how those who could not fight or were crucial to the war effort in the work they did at home, put the need of America and their fighters ahead of personal gain. How that changed in later conflicts ... the indifference to the Korean "Police Action" and the downright disdain for the Vietnam conflict and the men who fought in it. Thank God that Americans support the military men and women in today's Mid-East warfare.

In WW2 there were reminders of the responsibilities of citizens at home nearly everywhere ... on posters, on notices shown in theaters and books, in books and magazine articles, and even on the menus of diners and cafes.

The De Anza Coffee Shop in downtown San Jose was a good example. The Danzabar upstairs, where Shirlie worked her photographic magic and befriended soldiers and sailors who spent time there, did many things to honor the military. The coffee shop downstairs used this special menu to honor the military. It featured a pictorial guide for the Identification of the United States Armed Forces.

Take a look at the menu. "Coffee with an oomph -- see it made in our thermostatically controlled urn." Coffee was a dime ... so was Jello! Entrees ran from 70c for Atlantic Coast Scallops, Fried in Egg Batter and Tarter Sauce to $1.50 for a Broiled Tenderloin Steak with Mushroom Sauce. Entrees came with vegetables and potatoes.
This menu is dated Sunday November 15, 1942.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lord James Tally-Ho Blears dies in Hawaii

Lord James "Tally-Ho" Blears (1924-2016)
 To Shirlie the World's Finest Photographer ... from the World's Finest Wrestler
 1955 ... Lord Jim Blears 

Shirlie Montgomery loved the "sport" of wrestling. In her role as a wrestling photographer, she had some favorites ... Leo Nomelini (local SF 49ers football star turned wrestler), the Sharpe Brothers (who used to hang around with Shirlie in San Jose), Enrique Torres (she thought he was "Oh So Handsome!"), Vince Lopez (would be lover) and both Gorgeous George and Lord "Tally-Ho" Blears (she thought their showmanship was what made wrestling fun.) Well, most of the stars of wrestling from her era have passed to the great ring in the sky ... and now we have lost Jan Blears, aka Lord James Blears, aka Lord "Tally-Ho."

From the Honolulu Star-Advertiser March 8th:

James Blears, a legendary wrestling champion, local promoter and World War II survivor who was nearly killed by his Japanese captors, has died. Blears died of natural causes Thursday night at Kuakini Medical Center, his son Clinton Blears said. He was 92. “He lived a good life,” Clinton Blears said. “He always told jokes. He gave us the gift of being able to tell stories because he was a story- and a joke teller.”

Blears, a professional wrestler known as Lord “Tally-Ho” Blears, told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2001 that he would eat a can of peaches every March 29 in homage to his fellow captives who perished and to remind himself of the preciousness of life and resilience. He said he ate peaches because it was the first food sailors gave him after they plucked him from the Indian Ocean, following his escape from his Japanese captors in 1944.

Blears was a 21-year-old radio officer on a Dutch merchant ship that had been sunk by a Japanese submarine near the end of World War II. The Japanese brought aboard the survivors and were shooting or decapitating many on the foredeck. Blears said he escaped by kicking a Japanese officer and pulling his hand out of a rope, then jumping overboard.

In Hawaii, Blears was an announcer for multiple sporting competitions including the Waikiki Rough Water Swim and the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big-wave surf contest. He was also a skilled waterman, surfer and canoe paddler. He is the father of former professional surfer Laura Blears.

Shirlie photographed Blears many times. The iconic shot of Blears nearly falling out of the ring atop Shirlie (taken by a fellow reporter from the newspaper in San Jose) in 1958 is a real classic.

The rest of these photos are from are by Shirlie from her archives, some of which are available for sale at Vintages' Sports Collectibles site
Blears loved to have fun with his image as an English Aristocrat turned wrestler
Shirlie captured his antics well
This "cartoon" by Shirlie is pretty cute!
So is this follow-on photo
This is a letter from Blears asking Shirlie for some copies of a photo
These are images taken from negatives Shirlie had.

 Lord Blears ... RIP ... and say "Hi" to Shirlie from all of us.