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, September 19, 2016

Shirlie's Teddy Bear

Shirlie's Teddy Bear was very well-loved for ninety years! I showed you a photo of her with her Teddy a couple of days ago. Here is that photo again, plus one of her Teddy today. We donated her Teddy ... which she kept forever ... to the HSJ Shirley Montgomery Collection.

Shirlie with her Teddy Bear c1921

 Photo from our private Collection

Shirlie's Teddy which currently resides in the Shirlie Montgomery Collection at HSJ

  (Image from the 
Bob and Susan Bortfeld, Shirlie Montgomery Collection
 at History San Jose. Used with permission.)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Shirlie Childhood Photos

Shirlie's friend Kirk once said ... and I am in firm agreement ... tha "the only thing Shirlie liked better than taking photos was having her photo taken!" So true. Even as a child, Shirlie liked to be in front of the camera. I put together a series of snapshots of young Shirlie from age one or so (1919) to age twelve (1931). See what you think.

These not only show Shirlie growing up, but give a glimpse into living in San Jose as a middle class family in the 1920s.

Kinda looks like the other famous "Shirley"

Miss Toddler Shirlie

Great hair Shirlie!

She loved to pose for the camera

Shirlie told me that the only place she loved as much as San Francisco was the beach at Santa Cruz ... she started early

Posing with a hoop

Shirlie absolutely LOVED her Teddy Bear ... She kept it all her life and it now resides with her collection at History San Jose

In her white bloomers

Back at the beach

Studio photo of Shirlie with a toy rabbit

Must have been the same day
Shirlie with her new friend

The spaniel has grown up ... Shirlie just a little bit

Shirlie in her "all together" ... hand-colored by Shirlie later

Shirlie being coy

Ahhh ... the actress in Shirlie is showing!

Blossom Festival in 1929

Shirlie (in the middle right) and friends

School play ... Shirlie on right

Shirlie loved the sailors in the 1940s ... looks like she liked the "look" c1930

Shirlie nearly a teenager at twelve in 1931
All photos are from our Private Collection

Monday, September 12, 2016

Boy's Wails Vie with King Lear's

“Oh, mamma, mamma, I'm dying, I'm dying. Take me out of here."

Those were the cries of little Montgomery Reynolds during a performance of King Lear at the Van Ness Theater in 1908.  What!? It happened and was reported in the San Francisco Call on Wednesday, May 20th 1908.

Here's the story. Shirlie's grand-uncle was T. S. Montgomery. His daughter Coralie Montgomery Reynolds was visiting the City that May of 1908. She and her four year old son Montgomery went to the Van Ness Theater to see a performance of Shakespeare's King Lear ... Taking a four year old to see King Lear has to be a questionable choice! ... The youngster was apparently not impressed.

Here's the story, as reported in The Call:


“Oh, mamma, mamma, I'm dying, I'm dying. Take me out of here."

The audience at the Van Ness theater started in its seats last night when these shrill cries resounded through the orchestra. Robert Mantell, as sad old, mad old King Lear, was just in the act of bemoaning “how sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child" when the outcry came. Mantell paused in the midst of his simulated misery and the audience craned its neck.

Up and out ran aisle ran a frightened woman, leading by the hand a small boy in a Buster Brown suit. Outside the wails of the "dying" boy attracted Patrolman Frederickson."^' An automobile was at the curb. The officer seized the all but moribund youth and tossed him into the big machine. In hopped the woman and down the streets they went whizzing to the central emergency hospital.

The boy was Master Montgomery Reynolds, aged 12 (
actually age 4). The woman was his mother (Coralie Montgomery Reynolds). They live in southern California, but are visiting at 1235 Laguna street.

At the hospital Dr. Pinkham informed Master Montgomery that he was suffering from a neuralgic attack of the muscles of his juvenile chest. He advised Mrs. Reynolds to place a hot water bag upon the offending muscles at bedtime, and mother and son hiked back to the Van Ness and the woes of Lear.

Forty-five minutes later Master Montgomery emitted another yelp of agony and mother and son again sought the central emergency.

Dr. Pinkham gazed feelingly upon Master Montgomery and advised his mother to resort to the ancient cure of "the laying on of hands," specifying the portion of the boyish anatomy most likely to be affected beneficially. Then mother and son walked out into the night, but not back to the Van Ness.

I do like the second prescription ordered by the wise doctor ... 

Here is a copy of the actual article: