The Officers Club

The Officers Club in Patrick Henry Village served at least three purposes that I can recall, each of which I’ll describe below.  It was on the south side of the loop formed by San Jacinto Drive (I only know the street name by consulting this Google map), which was in the north half of PHV and what I considered the “fancy” side because it had private homes on tree-lined streets instead of the stark apartment complexes I was more familiar with in the south part of the village.  A classmate whose father was a General lived in one of these homes, so I assume they were all reserved for higher-ranking officers.  It was also the “commercial” half of the village, as all the various shops were found there.  But I’ll go into those details in a different post.

I don’t know if the name “Officers Club” can be taken literally, meaning that only officers were allowed in, but if so, then maybe for some readers I’ll be shining a light into a mysterious building.  I suspect that, at least for the Bazaar I describe below, the building was open to all.  At any rate, here are my recollections of this multi-purpose building.

The Restaurant

When you first walked into the building, you’d find yourself in a large open room with a tiled floor.  I have a vague memory of a large, fancy chandelier.   I seem to recall a small stage in one corner of this open entry room, so perhaps dances were hosted here? Restrooms were along the right wall, and I only remember this because of the shock I experienced when my mother took me into the women’s room and it had both a couch and a bed!  Men’s rooms never had anything like this, and still don’t in the places I frequent.  At the time I took this to mean that all women’s rooms were much more fancy, although now I realize that the Officers Club was just a high-class joint.

Off to the left were the wide doorways leading into the restaurant itself.  My memory is that this was a very long and elegant room with white tablecloths, tall windows with heavy curtains, and more chandeliers.   At dinner there would be live music from the grand piano which I think was near the center of the room, and I recall escargot being on the menu — which I’m sure I remember due to my horror and refusal to sample it.  Brunch was a less formal affair, where I recall listening to Wolfman Jack‘s gravelly voice on the piped-in radio broadcast while in the buffet line.

Der Keller

In a hallway outside the restaurant was a staircase leading down with a sign which read “Der Keller,” German for “The Cellar.”  Descending these stairs was like entering a cave; I recall it always being somewhat dark with red-tinged lighting down there.  Der Keller was a more casual eatery; I suspect it was more of a bar than a restaurant but I was probably too young to make the distinction.  We would always get the pepperoni pizza there, but the pepperoni was so spicy!  A friend taught us that if you put a dab of ketchup on each disc of pepperoni, it removes the spiciness.  Nonsense, I’m sure, but we fully believed it and dabbing ketchup on the pizza became a tradition there.

The Bazaar

I don’t know how frequently this event occurred, but sometimes the Officers Club would be converted into something like a flea market, although as I recall it included a lot of high-priced, quality items instead of the secondhand junk you might normally associate with a flea market.  The large entry room, as well as several additional rooms deeper into the building, would be filled with booth after booth of merchants selling various things.   I recall oriental rugs, large paintings, freestanding grandfather clocks, all sorts of things.   I’d guess that at least some of these booths were German merchants from the surrounding towns?

And there were also toys.  Looking at rugs and paintings and other “grown up” stuff would quickly bore most kids, but I recall being excited to go to the bazaar to seek out the booths with the fun stuff.  We built a decent collection of small rubber Smurf figurines through repeated visits, I think a few years before they became well known in the States.   Our collection might have been worth a little money today, if the site is any indication.

Overall, the Officers Club was probably more significant to an adult’s experience at PHV than it was for us kids, but it is still a source of many memories from my youth in that fairly unique community.

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12 thoughts on “The Officers Club

  1. Pingback: Village Pavilion « Patrick Henry Village

  2. Pingback: Officers Club, part 2 « Patrick Henry Village

  3. Trish

    You remember quite well! The buildings in front of and behind the O’Club were temp housing and/or BOQs. I know some of the civilian teachers at the school lived there. The building to the West was the VIP Guest house. I remember a warm day, late Summer of ’76. We had just driven in from Augsburg to our new home on Brandywine Rd (#12, to be precise). I was wearing cut-off jeans and a ratty shirt, my brother was no doubt equally scruffy looking as well as my road-weary parents. We went up to the club for dinner. I felt so awkward, even at that age (9) being in such a fancy building dressed that way. Luckily, it wasn’t crowded and no one really noticed or cared how we were dressed.

    I loved the annual Bazaar! I would go every day and just wander around and look at the stuff, perhaps buying a Christmas present or two. I know my father bought a few nice things we still have at these bazaars. In addition to all the stuff you mentioned, I also remember the furs and the cars! There was a Subaru Brat on the floor that was so small, we assumed it was a toy. A big fancy toy.

    In addition to the Keller Club, there was a furniture store in the basement, specializing in fine Danish decor. My friend and I would sometimes take the basement as a shortcut to our homes on Brandywine.

  4. Charles Fernandez

    Do you have pictures or any publications of the last exhibition of the H-berg area that was held at the O’Club on 6 June 2013? Please contact at
    Charles Fernandez

  5. Peter

    Sunday brunch is my biggest memory of the O-club (mid 80’s). Unlimited Roy Rogers were a delight for us kids and sneaking in to play the nickel slot machines gave some excitement every time!

  6. Melanie Kennedy

    I lived on San Jacinto. I worked in the Keller, known as the ratskeller. Many friends of mine lived in the BOQ across from the club. I also taught swimming at the Leiman Schwimbad. I absolutely LOVED living there!! Are there any photos available?

  7. Scott Hammond

    I lived near the Officers’ Club with my parents in the late 80s. My friends and I would walk over to the Kellar in the evenings in summer and during our college Christmas breaks. We always had a great time at the Kellar and it always had a very friendly and festive crowd, especially during the holidays. Another great memory was the fest that they held in the summer near the Officers’ Club. Their was a huge tent which was set up with dozens of tables set up for the military families attending the fest. Beer and bratwurst were served in abundance and the fest was always a very joyous, exciting event.
    These are great memories that I will always cherish of my college days visiting my parents in Heidelberg’s Patrick Henry Village. This was definitely one of the best perks about being an Army brat during my college years.

    • Melanie Kennedy

      I feel the same way. The best summer and Christmas’ of my life

  8. James McAllister

    (76-79) I remember my dad taking us to the Officer’s Club on special occasions. Funny you mention the escargot; my brother pestered Dad to order them. Dad said he could have them on condition he ate them all. After the third one (which he stared at on the end of his fork for a full minute before putting it in his mouth) he turned a grayish green color. At that point Dad told him not to eat any more. I remember the piano music (not good for a boy of 13). Also a rather ridiculous german waiter we called Fritz. Whether that was his real name I’m not sure. I think the Bazaar was run by the Officers Wives Club just before Christmas. It was a good time for us boys to buy trinkets to give as presents for not a lot of money.

  9. Brian

    I believe the castle with the bridge you were talking about ist the Schwetzinger Schlossgarten. They hav quite a few bridges there and here is a picture of one :

  10. Mark Tumlin

    I am just discovering these posts and remember a lot of the detail described. I lived at PHV from 1970 to 1975, which was the age of 5 to 10. My parents gave my brothers and me the opportunity to explore so we found ourselves all over the base and into an ocassional discussion with the MPs. All good outcomes, but we found plenty of adventures. I look forward to reading more accounts and reflecting on my old memories. Thanks.

  11. felice data (and don fike)

    nice memories. i lived in boq 17 across from the front door of the o’club. i was a secretary at MEDCOM. i met my husband in 1968 in the ratskeller of that oclub. he was a 1lt with his friend, also a 1lt; both shared the same birthday. we remain friends with friend. and my husband and i are still married having moved back once for a 3 year civilian job. incredible times of our lives.

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