Shirlie Alice Montgomery June 9, 1918 – November 5, 2012

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.

She was the surviving 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 will never be forgotten. God rest her soul. (Obituary by Joe Holt, neighbor and friend.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lou's Village

During her heyday, Shirlie had her favorite haunts both in San Jose and San Francisco. One of those was Lou's Village, an Italian restaurant at 1465 West San Carlos Street in San Jose. When Lou’s Village opened in 1946, it offered a smorgasbord, barbecued dinner, and dancing in its 5,500 square foot building. For decades the Santoro and Muller families, who built this icon, offered live entertainment in addition to quality food. Over its long and colorful history, guests enjoyed entertainment, parties and fine food at Lou’s Village, including the likes of Max Baer, Lucille Ball, Hilo Hattie and many politicians. Unfortunately, in 2005 the Mullers made the decision to close Lou’s Village after sixty years.
Lou's Village in 1947 (Shirlie Montgomery)
Lucille Ball at Lou's (Shirlie Montgomery)
Heavyweight Champ Max Baer at Lou's (Shirlie Montgomery)
Lou’s Village began offering live music and dancing not long after it opened in 1946. On New Year’s Eve 1946, the restaurant provided a special menu, confetti, noise makers and dancing to Mike “Passy” Passarelli and his band. In the 1950s, Joe Tomasello and his band treated customers to three shows a night. The last great house band was made up of Don Welch on piano, Jimmy Turner on trumpet, Marty Proccacio on bass and Chuck Hughes on drums. The house band played in between performances by singers, dancers, comedians, and novelty acts. In 1946 and ’47, “Breakfast at the Village” was broadcast live on radio station KLOK, AM 1170, Mondays through Fridays from 9:00 to 9:30 AM. Customers were encouraged to “come out and join the fun”.
The Joe Tomasello Band at Lou's (Shirlie Montgomery)
Through all of this time, Shirlie was there, photographing events and personalities for fun and for profit. Many of her photographs of life at Lou's Village are on display at History San Jose and can also be viewed on the Lou's Village historical website.

Contributed by Bob Bortfeld 

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