Monthly Archives: May 2013

Heidelberg Army Air Field

Another of the military installations I visited while in Heidelberg was the AAF, or Army Air Field.  As far as I can tell from searching around the internet, it didn’t have any name more specific than that.  You can click here to see a satellite view of the airfield.  I believe that this satellite image may already be outdated because the Wikipedia page for the US Army Garrison Heidelberg says that, as part of the Army’s pullout from the Heidelberg area, this air field has already been turned over to the German government and has been converted to a heliport.

I think I was only at the AAF a few times.  I recall once at night we were waiting for a flight to come in and we walked around the T-shaped building to the north and looked at the fire trucks there–I was surprised to still see fire equipment at that exact location, at least as recently as that last satellite picture was taken.

I also vaguely recall walking through a long central hallway in that skinny central building, and I think one time we got to go up into the cockpit of a parked plane and look around.  Another time we got to do a ride-along on a flight to another airfield maybe a few hours away.

But the main thing I remember about this airfield is the time that Santa came to visit.  The airfield staff were hosting a Christmas party, I believe in one of the hangars to the south.  There was a regular dinner/party for a while, and then they announced that Santa was coming in for a landing.  A small airplane, which may have been a Jetstream C-10A because I know those were flown out of this airfield, came taxiing right to the party hangar and out climbed Santa with a big bag of presents!  (Although that Wikipedia page says no C-10A’s were ever delivered to the US Air Force, I’m fairly sure I’m remembering the designation C-10 correctly so maybe the Army had bought some before the Air Force order was placed?)  All of the kids ran out to meet him, and my most vivid and hilarious memory is of watching some kid jump up and grab Santa’s beard, pulling it down so you could clearly see the elastic strap holding it in place.  Santa quickly adjusted himself and carried on, and as I recall he had a present in his bag for each kid at the party.   I think we had to go up to the front to receive it as he called our names.

If you want to know more about the Heidelberg AAF, check out this page which describes it in exhaustive detail.

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Photo: The Intersection near the Elementary School

Below is another photo I found on the internet, providing a ground-level view of a particular intersection in PHV which conjures up a lot of memories for me.  Many of these I’ve already detailed in my post about the elementary school, which is just out of the picture to the left, but below the picture I’ll briefly mention them again and add a few other details.  This picture is from 1979 or 1980, which is exactly the timeframe in which I was living in PHV.

(I felt a little uncomfortable reusing this picture since it’s clearly a family photo, so I contacted the owner and got permission…and also learned that he worked with my Dad back in those days!  Click the picture to link to the flickr gallery where I originally found this)

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The first things I notice in this picture are the crosswalks.  I crossed these streets many times coming and going from school and even got to be a crossing guard for a time, which I recall being a special privilege for good grades or something.  I seem to recall thinking that jaywalking was a serious offense back then, so these crosswalks may as well have been bridges over a river.

Just behind those bushes to the right is where I had my ridiculous Battlestar Galactica-inspired fist fight, as described in the Elementary School blog I linked above.  Behind those bushes you can see a blue VW minibus.  That parking lot is where the big bus full of wooden nutcrackers and other trinkets would park, as I described in my Shopping blog entry.

On the left side of the picture you can see the sidewalk curving back into the distance, which is how I walked home after school when I didn’t have to go to Mrs. Taylor’s.  Whenever I’m reminded of the “don’t take candy from strangers” lesson that we all hear as kids, I always think of this particular stretch of sidewalk for some reason — I must have first been told that lesson during my days of walking that sidewalk frequently.  Similarly, when I hear the proverb “a bird in the hand beats two in the bush” I always think of the bushes next to that first quarters building on the left side of the road — I seem to remember coming across a bird’s nest in one of them during a walk home from school.

Off picture about 3 buildings to the right is where Mrs. Taylor ran a daycare center out of her apartment.  When staying there after school, we were allowed to romp around the local area but were not allowed to cross the street at the left.  One day I got into a bit of trouble and decided to hide out, and I thought I was being particularly clever by crossing the street and hiding behind the row of campers which was perpetually in that lot at the far left.  I remember one of Mrs. Taylor’s teenaged daughters appearing around the front of that building at the right, clearly looking for me, but I’d outsmarted her by leaving the sanctioned area.

Also in that building at the right, I remember there lived an Asian woman (probably somebody’s mom) with some of the longest hair I’ve ever seen.  I want to say it was approaching the backs of her knees, but I feel like my mind may have exaggerated it over the years.  Not sure if that was more of a style back then, or was unusual even for the time.

Behind those campers in the distance you can see a smaller white building, which is the building we used to climb up as I detailed in the Hedge Tunnel blog entry; I think it served as a concession stand for the track and football field which is out of view just to the left of it.

I know some of these memories seem random and highly specific, but you never know what might trigger a memory or draw a connection with someone else so I try to throw as much out there as I can.

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