Shirley’s parents, Leo Schlanger and Ceil Sauerteig, were Jewish immigrants from Poland. They ran a grocery store in New York and, for a time, in New Jersey.
Shirley’s sister Roz was an athlete. She played basketball and liked riding her bike around the city. Shirley, on the other hand, loved going to school and enjoyed reading in her spare time. Her mom said she was the only child who claimed to have homework in kindergarten.
Shirley’s favorite grade school teacher was Miss Hauptman. In her civics class, Hauptman stressed constitutional rights, even for minorities. Her class made a big impression on Shirley.
Shirley lived in New Jersey for a few years during grade school. The public library refused to give her a library card because her family did not own property. She thought that was unfair.
Shirley and her younger sister Roz shared a bedroom in their family home. While they had very different interests and friends, they got along well. Later in life, they especially enjoyed traveling together.