Looking at this zoomed-in map of a particular area of PHV reminds of several things:
The Hedge Tunnel
You’ll notice that the building in that map has a hedge running along the front. That was very unusual when I lived in PHV in the late 70s/early 80s, and from looking around with Google maps I think it may still be somewhat unique.
Walking to and from school every day, we’d pass by this building. One day we discovered there were tunnels running underneath the long hedge! I guess the kids who lived in that area of PHV had somehow managed to create something of a cave by crawling inside of these bushes. It was really just one long tunnel, with some very short side passages providing exits to one side or the other. By the time we discovered it, it had already seen heavy use and the ground inside this tunnel was firmly packed dirt. So if we came home with dirt-covered hands and knees, it may have been because we’d been having fun inside this hedge.
The Concession Stand
If you look behind the hedge building, to the East, you’ll see a smaller long building near the school track. I’ve always assumed this was the concession stand used during games, but I don’t recall ever going to a game so I don’t think we ever used this building for its intended purpose.
We had another purpose, though — to climb up on the roof and run around, just because that’s what kids do. You’ll notice that the south end of the building has a dumpster and some other clutter. In my day, there were actually a couple of trees here. We discovered that if you prop your bike against one tree, you can stand on the seat and then climb up into the tree. Then if you transfer across a few branches, you can make it onto the roof. I’m sure some punishment would have been in the offing if our parents had caught us up there, but I think we got away clean…at least until they read this blog.
The Metal Tower
Right in front of the concession stand there’s a small concrete area with a couple small buildings, and you’ll notice it’s connected to a second empty slab. I believe that empty slab is where the old metal tower was. I think the tower was used by announcers during games, but again, that has always just been my speculation. It was covered with rust and looked a bit like an oil derrick with a flat platform at the top. The only way up was a ladder on one side. Getting to the top of that tower was one of the holy grails of being a kid in PHV, because apparently kids like to climb stuff.
My memory is a little clouded on whether or not we ever made it to the top. The ladder didn’t extend all the way to the ground, and I do remember us trying the old trick of leaning our bike against the tower so we could step on the seat and reach the bottom rung. But I think climbing the ladder was always too scary, and I never made it to the platform.
The reason I’m unsure is because I seem to recall one time the MP’s (Military Police) were driving through and caught us messing around with the tower and ran us out of the area. I’m thinking that some of the braver kids in our group were actually running around on the top platform, thus visible to all, and I may have just been an “innocent bystander” at the bottom.
The Batting Cage
If you move just south from the concession area of the map, you’ll see a long green cage next to the baseball field which was for batting practice. I vaguely recall us trying to climb up this cage, which was essentially a chain-link fence, but never being successful.
What I remember more clearly is that near the entrance gate of this cage there was a huge gob of some dark, glistening, disgusting substance which I can only assume must have been some sort of grease. It was a few feet off the ground, I think slowly oozing out of one of the support poles. This growth was at least the size of a football; to this day I’m not sure what its purpose was or why such a large quantity. But I do remember touching it when we were trying to figure out what it was, and then wiping my hand through the grass trying to get it all off.
I don’t really recall making much use of the baseball field next to the batting cage, but I do remember the dugouts. This should sound familiar by now — since the dugouts were lower in the back, we learned that we could prop our bikes on the wall and use them as stepping-stones to climb onto the roof.
One time we were running around on the roof, for no apparent reason, and somebody made the discovery that you could tear off a bit of the roofing shingles and throw it, and it would travel a surprisingly long distance. So I’m ashamed to say that we were little vandals that day, tearing off little frisbees made of shingling material and decorating the outfield with them.