PHV in the 1960s

One of my readers and fellow PHV Army brat, Susan, was gracious enough to send some pictures she had of Patrick Henry Village in the 1960s, so here they are along with my observations and comments on each (you can click on any of them to get a larger view):

4465 Little Big Horn

This first picture is 4465 Little Big Horn Street.  The view is facing south.  You can locate the building on this Google satellite view as the 3rd of 5 buildings on the south side of Little Big Horn, in between South Gettysburg and South Lexington.  There’s a lot to talk about in this picture.  First off, I was surprised to see the buildings painted dark green!  I’m pretty sure they were white when I lived there in roughly 1977-1981, just as they are in the satellite view I linked.   In the stairwell furthest from the camera, on the first floor, is where Mrs. Taylor had sort of a daycare/babysitting service in her apartment.  So I used to walk to this very building every day from the elementary school!

That flat slab of concrete where the kids are playing is where I remember the dumpsters typically being, as I described in a previous entry detailing a typical apartment building.  This picture reminds me that in cases like this where two buildings essentially shared the same parking lot, the dumpsters could sometimes be found in between them at the end of the street.  You can see these dumpsters at the far left of the picture.  In fact, I can remember pulling some big cardboard boxes out of these very dumpsters during our stays with Mrs. Taylor and playing the “tank tread” game with them, where you lay the box on its side and open at both ends, then 3 or 4 kids lie down inside and all start rolling in the same direction so that the box travels along the ground like a tank tread.

Behind the kids, along the low part of that northern wall, are a few interesting features.  They’re a little hard to make out clearly, but clicking the picture to enlarge it will help.  I think one of them, perhaps the white rectangle to the right, is the hatch I mentioned in the aforemented entry where, if you found it unlocked, you could crawl down into the room full of coal.  On the left side of that same wall is something I’d completely forgotten about until Susan mentioned it.  You can see a rectangular area cordoned off by a two-rung metal fence.  As best as we can recall, this was actually an elevator leading down to the coal room!  I think most of the time it was covered up by a metal trap door, so you could just walk around on it and it’d make banging noises.  I think we kids also used to perch on that railing when just hanging out.

Along the south edge of the building, not visible in this shot, was one of the dirt marble courts I decribed in my very first blog entry.  And just beyond that would be the big playground I exhaustively detailed in my playgrounds entry.  In fact, the picture of the girl in that post features the south side of this same building in the background.

Look at all the old cars!  What I find interesting is that there are two Volkswagen Beetles in the picture, because in our last year in PHV over a decade after this picture was taken, we had one too!


This next picture is a closeup of one of the cars from the first photo, but there are some things in the background I find more interesting.  First, you can clearly see the stairs descending to the basement door in the back of that next building.  As I described elsewhere, each building had one set of these stairs on each end.  I remember there being a flat slab of concrete with poles for air drying laundry at the top of these stairs, but either this picture was taken before those were installed or else maybe not every building had them.  Also, on the edge of that building you can clearly see the metal railing around the coal elevator which I mentioned above.  Finally, you can see a hedge along that building which I suspect might be the same one Susan recently mentioned in the comments for my previous entry about the hedge tunnel.


Here’s another shot of some PHV buildings. Susan and I put our heads together and determined, largely by the large grassy areas, that this shot is probably of San Juan Hill street, looking north.  The building from the first two pictures is also in this shot, in the background where you can see a sidewalk leading to the playground area and then to that building.  For my last year in PHV, I lived on San Juan Hill street!  My building is off camera to the right, though — you can just barely see a small bit of its roof peeking through.  I see at least 3 more VW Beetles in this picture!

PHV rainbow

Here’s a shot of PHV with a rainbow in the background, but I’m not sure exactly where this shot was taken.  The wide open area in the right foreground and clues like building placement makes me think perhaps this might have been taken from the intersection of San Juan Hill and South Lexington, but that’s just a guess.

Stairwell at Halloween

This shot shows the interior of one of the stairwells I’ve mentioned in a few posts, like the one about Halloween in PHV which this shot exemplifies.  On the right is the railing where we’d climb to the top and then try to spit all the way down to the basement.  I don’t remember the walls being painted two different colors, but who knows, maybe they were like that during my time at PHV too.  Also, I do vaguely recognize the square fuse box doors along the back wall, but I don’t remember if they were still in use in my day.  It seems like sometimes we’d come across one of these doors just hanging wide open, but it was a bit too high for us kids so I don’t remember poking around in there at all.

Finally, Susan sent some pictures of Tompkins Barracks which was briefly mentioned in a recent post where I talked about an aerial picture of PHV which had been mistakenly credited as Tompkins.  The architecture at Tompkins is clearly different than PHV, though.  Although I recognize the name Tompkins Barracks, perhaps from signs pointing that way, I don’t really have any memory of ever visiting this facility.  However, the last picture showing what I presume is the front gate does seem a bit familiar, but if so the memory is very hazy.
Tompkins Barracks 1 Tompkins Barracks 2 Tompkins Barracks gate

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36 thoughts on “PHV in the 1960s

  1. Susan

    Thanks for posting these, David.

    I’d like to note that the trucks in the second Tompkins Barracks photo are mobile mapmaking units. They contain copy cameras, printing presses, and everything else needed to produce maps in the field.

    If memory serves, locals were invited to Tompkins Barracks for a sort of exhibition fair—note the brass band playing on the pontoon bridge. (The folding bridge was my favorite part of the day by far.)

    • Lou Ann

      Susan, what year did you live at Patrick henry Village my father was stationed there from 1964-1967 . I live on San juan Drive and went to Patrick Henry elementary school. I went to school with a Susan I think her last name was Beaumont . By and change is that you. I am Lou Ann Steckla . Hope to hear back form you I have photos.

      • Susan

        Hi, Lou Ann—We moved in in the spring of 1967, so we probably didn’t overlap, and my last name isn’t Beaumont. I started Kindergarten that year—Mrs. Sands. I had Mrs. Sayer for first grade. I have my first grade class picture somewhere—I’ll dig it up and post; maybe you’ll recognize some kids from earlier.

      • Lou Ann

        Oh please do Susan I would be very grateful. Thank yo u.

    • Lou Ann

      The Hedge tunnel :
      When we first arrived at Patrick Henry village that tunnel went all the way back to the autobaum several young kids were killed in that tunnel as it fell in . The army sealed it off ASAP.

      • Joe Myers

        Lou Ann, The tunnel that collapsed killed Ernest Black. He was on my Little League team. The first person i ever knew that died. We lived in MTV but came to PHV to play.

      • Lou Ann

        What years was that we arrived in 1964 . I lived there from 1964 until 1967 going back to Germany in 28 days for Christmas. Joes what years did you live there would enjoy keeping in touch with you . Always loved Heidelberg.

    • thanks so much. I was 3rd grade to 7th grade there and consider those memorable years. Like you I don’t remember them being green, they were off-white. 21-c san juan hill

  2. Celia R.

    I just stumbled on your site, and was especially interested in your most recent post about Patrick Henry in the 60’s. I lived there in the early 60’s. We had a 3-year tour when I was in 4th-6th grade. The first 9 months we were “on the economy,” renting a German house and going to school in Mark Twain Village, then we got housing in Patrick Henry. We were given what I think was meant to be temporary housing in the 4th floor attic, but my parents decided to stay there. Our family had five children and the 4th floor apartments, originally built as maid’s quarters, had 7 or 8 small bedrooms. We used one as a storage room, one as a music room, one as a study, etc.

    I’m sure it was hard for my parents, my mother in particular. I remember her going up and down the stairs from the 4th floor to the basement, laundry, basket on one hip and baby on the other hip. The soldiers, including my father, were subject to “alerts,” surprise exercises where they had to don fatigues and gear and report for duty at any hour.

    But for us kids it was a nice life, since there were SO many kids and everything was walking or biking distance. I have fond memories of playing marbles or kickball, Saturday afternoon children’s matinees at the movies, and the wonderful teachers we had at the elementary school. Thanks for bringing back the memories!

  3. Susan

    Hi, Celia—you’ve clarified for me a memory I thought might be mistaken. I was sure a family lived in the attic in the middle stairwell of our building on Little Big Horn. Like yours, theirs was a large family, and I remember how cramped their apartment felt, because it was up under the eaves.

    • Tim

      There were some buildings that had that. They had 8 bedrooms and were used as temporary housing for families awaiting regular housing assignment. Occasionally they were permanently assigned to larger families.

  4. Renee Underwood Tolison

    I lived at Patrick Henry Village back in the late 1960s also….those were the days. I remember the kickball games, fishing for marbles on those grates beside the building, using string with a matchbox car tied to the end with masking tape folded on the car and “fishing” for the marbles that fell in the grate thing. Going swimming at the Limmon (spelling???) pool. Walking to school, didn’t have to worry about crime or anything, just nice wonderful carefree childhood days.

    • Barbara Walker

      Limon always smelled like Sea & Ski sun lotion. It was a fun place.

    • Janlol

      Our boys went to PHV Elem. and Middle Schools in the 90’s. They graduated from Heidelberg HS in Mark Twain Village. They spent many happy summer days at Leimen pool . They rode their bicycles there from our apt. in Leimen-St.Ilgen. It was two miles from PHV. The pool still smelled like tanning lotion in those days, too. Great memory !

  5. Jim Kempter

    I too was a PHV Army brat and I’m so glad I came across this blog! It brings back so many great memories. I was born in Stuttgart, then to Carlisle Barracks, PA for a couple of years, then back to Germany at Leimen, Kircheim (SP?), then finally to PHV in about 69-74. I remember the spitting to try and hit the basement as well as a lot of other things everyone has written about. I don’t remember the building number, but the stairwell and apartment was 17E Little Big Horn. I remember on warm nights playing “Ghost in the Graveyard” and pitching tents in the spaces in between the buildings. I too had my time as a crossing guard and that building you were talking about next to “Foodland”, with the dance floor, was the NCO club, AKA: “The Old Dominion”. Had to page my parents there quite a bit! LOL I could write a book, keep the comments coming! I really enjoy hearing everyone’s experiences! Thanks

  6. Edward

    Great pictures and thank you for posting them. My old address there was on Alamo Circle with lots of nice memories of the place. We were stationed there from the fall of 1975 to spring/summer of 1979. Is the place still standing after all this time?

    • It’s still there, but just last year the US Military moved their operations out of Heidelberg and turned PHV over to German control.

    • You don’t have an older brother named Bobby, and didn’t happen to live at 3A Alamo Circle did you? Long shot… just curious.

    • Michael

      It´s still there and is still in use i spent some time in there last year now they use the facility for asylum seekers. I am very sad about that. that .
      I remember the time of the german american Volkfest i always was there and i miss those time.

  7. Tim

    I used to live on San Juan Hill. Best army assignment i ever had

  8. Russ Martin

    We lived on Bull Run Court, ’71-’75. Never to be forgotten. My dad was Command Sergeant Major at Tompkins Barracks with the 549th Engineers. He built many a pontoon bridge across the Rhine with the equipment in your pictures. Directly across from the gate was the NCO club for Tompkins, I had a job there for a couple of years. $1.00 an hour. good money.

    • Rodney

      Comand Sergeant Major Martin and Colonel Gouldner and Lt Colonel Pope I was Their Driver/Clerk/Gopher/Radio Man for 3 Years I Knew Him Very Well! Went to NCO Club all the Time New Your Mother Also! He Use to Drive the Little Blue Convertible! I Drove it a Couple of Times! I was with Your Father Many a Time on the Rhine!!! Your Father Actually Hired Me after Our Meeting/ Interview! I Use to Love Watching All the Sergeants Panic When the Sgt Major Came Around LOL I Knew Him Well!

      • russ martin

        The little blue Fiat spider. I learned to drive in the woods near Tompkins Barracks in that car. Top was a Marlboro/King Edward inhaling old school CSM. He loved his Labor Service Troops too. They had their own Gasthaus in the barracks.
        Thanks for responding Rodney

  9. joey v

    I also lived on San Juan Hill – early to late mid 70s’- and 3rd picture down- I am also chiming in- yes- it sure does look like one of the courts on San Juan Hill…. in fact- I am pretty sure this is the same court on San Juan Hill that my family lived in.
    We lived in the building on the right side of the picture- the furthest stairwell from the camera-1st floor on right side of entrance.

    Every holiday-my mother would tempura paint some holiday scene in the big glass living room window.

    The laundry room was at the near end of the building. The picture confirms my memories of the air raid sirens and the tests… ( top of building in the right of the frame)

    And like you- I also lived in the building on the left barely out of frame- we moved there when my sister hit a magic age. The end units had 1 extra bed room and with 3 boys and 1 girl- when she that magic age- she got her own bedroom- so we moved across the courtyard to same end of building and same floor. (not only gained an extra bedroom-but a half bath (that window on the end wall)
    It was around the time Star Wars came out-because I remember getting a Star Wars calendar that year.

    When I lived there- all the buildings were painted white.
    If you look at the very far end of the court- you can see the dumpsters. They were very popular with the kids when families moved out – the dumpster diving collections to be had! lol- never failed to find the tossed out 3 years worth of Playboy magazines. (and then the hiding them around the building in the basement,coal room, laundry etc….(i wonder now that PHV has reverted to civilian control- if they are going to stumble across long lost collections in long forgotten hidey holes?)

    The stairwell picture- wow- if I saw that picture w/o knowing the source- I would have instantly said PHV! loved sliding those wood banisters. and the gap btwn the rails- trying to drop/parachute GI Joes all the way down from the top. Not forgetting parachuting them out of that swing out window at the very top of the stairwell.

    I know I ran on a bit here- but one last thing-
    the rats cellar.
    Any one ever do what I did? Of course I am talking about the Rathskeller…. and of course- it was downstairs…so take a word in a different language, below ground, and a similar sounding name, add an 8 or so old child…yeah- when my parents told me we were going to the rats cellar to eat…. morbid fears arose…and i think that happened many times.

    Thanks for allowing us to share our memories of a place that, that while undergoing a great transformation, at least still lives on in our memories and hearts.

    • Susan

      Hi, Joey—We must have overlapped for a time. I lived in the near stairwell of the building in the center of the picture. My friend Debbie lived on the third floor of your stairwell. She had an older sister and a little brother named Dean. Do you recall them? Do you remember Cindy, Brenda, and Grant, who lived across the street?

      • Bill Volker

        Hi Susan.Debbie and Dean Volker are my younger brother and sister.31E San Juan Hill St.was our address.We moved to Alaska when we left Germany.Debbie and I still live in Alaska.Took a drive through PHV 5 or 6 years ago on a vacation to visit my daughter who was stationed near K-town.
        What a flashback that was.Feel free to reply.

      • Debbie Boyle

        Susan, this is Debbie 🙂 My brother, Bill, just sent me a link to this blog! My memory of PHV is pretty foggy, but I remember you! I remember a family with a shockingly large number of kids, they were catholic, I remember going to church once with them. I remember a girl named Yolanda whose grandfather had a cherry orchard across the autobahn and it had one of those circular teeter-totters. I don’t remember much of the building we lived in on San Juan Hill other than it had a sandbox nearby where my little brother once lost the keys to our apartment. I once organized a carwash with a bunch of neighbor kids and we hosed down a MP vehicle, accidentally spraying the driver through the open window, lol. Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Whitehead, first grade teacher Mrs. Johnson are two of the teachers I had. I could probably scrounge up a class photo or two if I dug deep enough through all my photos… Wow, what a blast from the past!

      • Susan

        Hi, Debbie! I remember that sandbox! And being terrified of the MPs. I remember being very impressed by your Christmas tree—it touched the ceiling. Your sister had a disk, some kind of exercise device, that one would stand on and twist. You told me it was very important not to stand on the other side, so of course, being curious, I turned it over and stood on the other side. My apologies to your sister if I broke it! I remember the old man who came through PHV with a pony cart—a ride was 10 pfennigs, and my mother complained about the smell but always gave me the money. I remember some kind of childcare—was it called the nursery? Parents could leave their kids there while out for the evening. Do you remember organizing a carnival for the backyard? All sorts of games and things were planned, but I don’t remember whether it happened. I remember the big rabies scare and the big tick scare. And I believe it was you who educated me on World War II. Somewhere on this blog I’ve already posted my kindergarten and first grade pictures. I recognize two or three kids—Debbie Russ, Enrique, the French Kid. So long ago but so near….

      • Debbie Boyle

        Haha, I didn’t remember the backyard carnival until you mentioned it, that made me laugh 😀 Funny about me teaching you about WWII, as I am now actually working in education as a reading and math tutor. I remember we’d generally hide/run from the MP’s which is why it was so funny that I hosed one down while we were washing his vehicle. The large catholic family had a son with a wooden leg, first time I’d ever seen anyone without a leg before (he had to take it off at night and I was spending the night over there with one of his sisters… I was shocked that there even was such a thing). We had downstairs neighbors who I think had two boys, a large dog, and their dad was a doctor. I remember collecting bees and ladybugs in a gallon jar, stepping over a string fence onto new grass to get a drink out of a hose, and falling with the jar. The glass cut my wrist and that doctor neighbor took me someplace where they stitched it up. Oh, and I was fascinated that their dog “knew” German, lol. They would give it commands in German and the dog would comply. I thought he was the smartest dog ever! There were a lot of birthday parties in the attic and if I remember right, there was a lot of room to run around up there. Spitting down the stairwell was also a thing. Epic games “Red-Rover”, Red light Green light, marbles (super competitive and very serious), kickball, and maybe swinging statues? Cookies and milk at snack time at school, bread truck, beer truck… lantern parade around or on St. Martin’s day. I don’t remember the pony cart, but I remember having to put phennings in the drawer every time we used the phone? One of my favorite memories is putting our shoes outside the door on St. Nicolaus day, Dec 6th to be filled with candy. I don’t think you broke my sister’s twister thing… we brought that up to Alaska so it was still intact. No worries! 🙂

  10. Diane

    We also lived on San Juan Hill from 65 to 69. We were the Anderson’s, ten kids until brother David was born, then 11. I remember the Baskin’s and Joe (I want to say Pescadero) from our stairwell.

    • Debbie Boyle

      Diane, did you have a brother with a wooden leg? I remember going to a catholic church once with a large family and spending the night. That’s when I found out one of the older boys had a wooden leg.

  11. I’m 99% certain that the first photo of Little Big Horn is the building we lived in for the last year or so we were stationed at PHV. Our apartment was at the far end. End stairwell, first floor. Our first year we were in former maids’ quarters in a building on the other end of PHV (I think only place they had for us when we arrived). Was at PHV from ’75 to ’78. I miss the bread truck and getting fresh pretzels. Other kids lived for ice cream. I wanted bread!

  12. Carl Tindel

    I have many fond memories of living at the Alamo Circle at the right in front of the baseball fields; as you faced the building we lived on the third floor on the left stairwell. I was there 1965-1967. I recall I was in the elementary 5th grade with Ms Culbertson (she sang folk songs) and 6th grade with Mr. Wallace (when I took German) and returned early in the 7th grade. My dad worked in the motor company and was a driver for one of the generals to the best of my memory. I remember going to the Heidelberg museum and castle (had a giant beer keg that could be stood upon). I also have fond memories of the bread truck and the fresh fruit truck. I remember walking to the shopette and going to the Saturday matinee. I remember the deep snow in the winter and play soccer next to our building. My dad and his friend went to junk shops and picked up old clocks. They cleaned and repaired them and sold them in our storage room in the basement near the laundry room. We left back to Fort Sill where my dad soon departed to Vietnam.

  13. Mitch Deck

    Thanks for putting in the time! Nice site! I have a lot of photos of PHV from 1977-1980. Lived at 11-C San Juan Hill. A lot of pics of Lizard Hill…. Schools ect… Had a blast!

  14. joey v.

    i finally found an online map of PHV that has the building numbers listed. and if they are correct- i lived at 18 san juan cir then we moved to 20 san juan cir.
    can any one confirm if the address numbers on the map are correct? (might have to zoom down close to get them to display.,8.62855,18,normal

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