A PHV Primer

For those readers who didn’t also spend part of their lives in PHV, the following is a general description to give you the lay of the land.  More colorful stories will appear in the various posts.

PHV, at a base level, is essentially an apartment complex for soldiers stationed overseas and their families.  It also offers single-family homes, but I believe those are reserved for the highest-ranking officers.  The apartment buildings typically consisted of three floors of apartments, 18 apartments per building, as well as a basement with laundry facilities and storage rooms.  There was also a 4th floor, sort of an attic, the purpose of which was always confusing to me as a kid…adventures on this 4th floor will be covered in various posts.  Due to the high concentration of young families with young children, there are many playgrounds scattered all over the place…so many that you could stand in one place and see 3 or 4 of them at a time.

But really, PHV is a community more than a housing complex.  The term “village” in the name was very appropriate.   Within its gates, at least at the time I lived here, were schools covering kindergarten through at least middle school.   There is also a small shopping area which, in my time, included a food mart, bowling alley, movie theater, book store, hot dog stand, and I’m sure some others I’m forgetting.  PHV also included a daycare center, a fancy restaurant, and other facilities which I’ll cover as they come up.

Beyond the physical structures of PHV, there are the more abstract areas and concepts which wouldn’t seem like much to adults but which were full of wonder for us kids…things like the bush tunnels, the marble courts, and Behind The Fence.  These are the things I most look forward to capturing through these blog posts.


38 thoughts on “A PHV Primer

  1. Tess Redding

    I lived at 4 (or 5) F Little Big Horn in PHV. This was back in the late 1950s. I think we were transferred back to the states in 1960. This was the best part of my childhood, and I have yearned to go back there some time. I have enjoyed exploring your website. It brought back so many memories.

  2. joey

    don’t know if you caught this or not-but this was the final week of PH elem/middle school- they have closed their doors forever. I attended PH elem grades 1-5….1973-1978


    • Yep, earlier today I posted that link in a very short update. 🙂 We may have overlapped our time at PHV slightly…you might have been in 5th grade when I was in 1st grade, but not completely sure about the dates.

    • i also attended PH Elem…. grades 4 and 5, in ’77 and ’78… so there’s every chance we knew each other.

  3. Greg

    I lived at PHV from 77-79 and attended the middle school (the highlight of which was our school ski trip to Garmisch-Partenkirchen). Reading your website has brought back a lot of good memories and things I had forgotten. Living in Heidelberg at that time and age was a unique experience that I’m glad I had. You had me laughing at your description of the stairwells and swinging from the pipes above the basement. I’m surprised I never broke anything doing the exact same things. I recall looking forward to a bakery and sweets truck that used to come around the neighborhood, hanging out at the bowling alley, trips to the rod & gun club, volksmarching and of course the occasional hankering for a good bratwurst and brochen roll.

    • James McAllister

      Greg, I think we overlapped. I attended the middle school from 77-79. I think it had just opened. I remember well Panther football, volksmarches, the brötchen lady, kids selling their comics on the ground outside the Stars & Stripes bookstore, kids heckling Autobahn Annie from the fence (on one occasion she had enough and drove her car on base around to the school and got into a fight with a kid).

      • ha ha ha ha, i remember Autobahn Annie… man she was homely. LOL…. i lived in PHV 77-79 as well, but was only at the Middle School for the ’78-’79 school year

    • yeah Greg… i may have known you… probably a class or two below you though

  4. Peter

    My memories of PHV are from behind the fence, but when the gates were still wide open. I am German, grew up in Eppelheim and discovered PHV in the late Seventies while cycling with my father and, of course, at the times of the German-American Volksfest with its most delicious strawberry icecream and fantastic Hamburgers. As a stamp collector I found the blue mailboxes most interesting and mailed a letter with an US stamp I owned. I started to collect US APO mail then (which I continue even till today, 35 years later).

    • hi Peter.. i lived in PHV from 1977 to 1979.. it was a big place, so it’s doubtful we met, sine you didn’t go to our schools, but i did play with some German kids, since our building was right against the fence that divided the American and German areas… who knows, maybe we crossed paths… velleicht.

  5. Paige Pate

    I lived in PHV in the mid seventies, I wenr to school there from 5th – 8th grade. The back of our apartment faces the football field and rabbit hill was to the right. (Loved Rabbit Hill!) We used to sneak through an opening in the chain link fence behind the Colonel’s Quarters and walk down a dirt road to a GuestHaus to get pomfritz. Do you have any pictures of rabbit hill or know where I can find the video of the base closing?

    • I’m not sure what you are referring to as rabbit hill, but the only thing I can think of would be the area which we used to call Behind The Fence — I have a big blog entry specifically about that area. I don’t have any pictures, though, as that area has completely changed. When I drove by in 2000, I believe that area had become developed farmland. But if you look on google maps’ satellite view now, at some point it was made into additional baseball diamonds.

    • Ha. Rabbit Hill. I’d completely forgotten that name, I used to jump the fence with friends to “play Army” back there in the early 80’s (’80-’85)

  6. Tracey

    I been a thinkin about why me fellow maties dont share me liken of Pirate Day.. so me minds destination brings me to them days long ago roamin the castles of lands afar preparin fer invasion as me capturers (parents) was a tourin. me never was bein one of them their lasses waiting fer er prince charmin and playin the princess.. what can me say other than a pirates life is fer me!

  7. Jill Voeller

    My home was 39F San Juan Hill from 1962-1966!
    I have lived in Europe 22 years!
    This word press took me home where I plan to return soon to be back in Deutschland :-). Jill

  8. Dan M. Gilbreath

    I lived at Patrick Henry from 1960 to early 1964. Attended the elementary school there when it first opened. I remember it as a great time. My dad worked part time at the theater, so I saw all the movies of that period for free. Popcorn was a dime, a huge bag of Hershey’s Kisses was a quarter. I had a part time job running burgers and fries between the EM club and the bowling alley. My older brother worked at the small market there (like a 7-11). I have always wanted to go back, and now I see it is closed.

    Thanks for the site. Interesting to hear the stores.

    San Diego, CA

  9. Al Greene

    We Lived at 13C Alamo Circle in 1967. Lots of memories! Thanks for putting up the website.

  10. Jimmye Michal O'Connor

    I live on San Juan Hill St–1st in one of the 4th floor attic apartments until our apartment was ready. Then we moved across the street to a 3rd floor 4 bedroom apartment. The attic apartment must have had 8 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, and bathroom. I remember the hallway went on forever after my bedroom, which was the last to be occupied with my family. I caught the bus to carry me to Heidelberg High School right on the corner. Our Jr-Sr prom was in the castle and was called “Stairway to the Stars.” We had to climb the stairs to get to the ballroom. Then graduation was also in the castle in 1961.

  11. Lea Hurst

    I lived at 44D South Gettysburg in PHV from August 1976 to June 1980 and attended the MIDDLE SCHOOL.
    It was fun even though I was hit by a car July 14, 1978 riding my bike from the bowling alley, Yea that was me, I’m fine. But I do miss the close nit family we had in PHV. The years have passed and I’ve only made a few connections with the people I grew up with.
    I am Lea Hurst and I miss my friends of Heidelberg. Thank you for connecting us with our WONDER YEARS.

  12. Jan Woten

    Wasn’t the Officers Club still there? I remember Sunday brunches, all sorts of German items they had for sale up the stairs on the 2nd floor. Sometimes they’d bring in a hot car, like in 64, a Jaguar
    XKE type 12 cylinders for $3500 brand new. We used to go out to dinner there once in a while. Since my Dad was retired Marine Officer, we lived in Schwetzingen, in a 3 floor house, full basement with wine cellar and detached garage. It was just lovely, especially when the mark was 4.25 $1. Lived in Europe 10 years. Best of my life. I was 15-25.

  13. Michael Mountain

    We lived at 5b Little Big Horn from Nov 70 till Aug 74.

  14. Jimmye Michal O'Connor

    We lived at 3E San Juan Hill from April 1960 to July 1961.

    • Mike Moore

      Howdy… I think we were neighbors at PHV I think we lived in 3C San Juan Hill from 1958-1963.

      • Dan Gilbreath

        Hi Mike, thanks for the post. Yes, I lived at 48C South Lexington. July 1960 to March 1964. Don’t see too many posts from people who lived there at that time. I attended 6th through middle of 9th grade. Just a kid. 6th grade at the “new” school at Patrick Henry, then at the Mark Twain Village school. Happy Holidays!

      • Jimmye

        Mike, what school did you attend? I took the bus to high school–I was a senior.

  15. Barbara Walker

    I lived at PHV 3 times. 2 different apartments and at one point in the BOQ. The first time was in 1964 when I was born. When I was 2 we were stationed in Virginia but were quickly sent back to PHV. My mom planted some of the trees that are still there! I was gone again by the time I was 5 but then returned at 13 to stay summers with my Dad in the BOQ. I remember the bazaar at the Officer’s Club and didn’t they have a neat teen club downstairs or was that somewhere else? There was the bowling alley, the movie theater too. And yes, the fireworks shows are the most memorable from me. Also the Officer’s club was very nice at Christmas time and New Year’s. My Dad worked at the offices in Schwetzingen so I spent a lot of time around there too. What a lovely castle in that town! The Volksvest was awesome. It was so great to be young! I had an older brother that went to Heidelberg High. I think I have that yearbook. Would have been 1968ish… in case anyone is interested.

  16. Mike Moore

    I was in elementary school but if I remember correctly Mike Sikes lived in our bldg. and I think he was in high school.

  17. Monika

    I was there in the late 70s. We lived on Alamo Circle and I loved living on base! Non-stop adventures. I attended Middle School and then for one year took the bus to HHS before we were transferred back to the States. This blog is fantastic — keep the memories coming!

    • hi Monika… i lived at 18E Alamo Circle from 77-79… sounds like you were a few years ahead of me in school, it was grades 4-6 for me… i played mostly with the kids in my stairwell, like Steve Benevides (sp?) and the blonde kids in the building across from us, Michael Nunn and his brother… it’s possible you babysat some of us, or if you had younger siblings that we played or hung out with them. I used to mow the grass for the building to earn some money for the Brotchen Man, or comics from the Stars & Stripes, lol

  18. Ellyn

    I lived in Emmertsgrund (on the economy, as we said then), but I attended PHV in the 3rd grade, then moved to MTV (the other MTV — Mark Twain Village!) grades 4-5, and then 6-8 grade at Heidelberg Middle School, from 1978-1983. I remember The Ratskeller pizza well, the bowling alley, and the bazaar. As well as trick or treating in the villages. We went from stairwell to stairwell with pillowcases and they would be full and too heavy to carry by the end of the night. You didn’t have to go far to get a haul and every stairwell participated by decorating and dressing in costumes. Many fun times.

    Did anyone else attend HMS in the early 80s? Great blog — happy to find you!

    • James Murphy

      yes, I attended HMS for the 78-79 school year, and lived in PHV (18 E Alamo Circle) from 76 to 79

  19. Janlol

    My children went through all years of their schooling at PHV, graduating from HHS. They loved their years there. It was a wonderful time !! So sad to know that is no more. All things change. You cannot return to your past as it was.

  20. Paul

    Thanks for the memories.
    I lived off of Gettysburg from 69 to 72. I believe it was building 24a.
    I enjoyed the photos Susan posted from the mid to late 60s. And yes, the buildings were olive drab green when we first moved there. Later they were painted baby crap yellow.
    I keep reading a blog about behind the fence, don’t recall this. However, I did read a blog where someone mentioned a place they called rabbit hill. If its the same place, we called it rabbit field. A large field full of rabbits where we used to catch them then take them to the vet Got them rabies shots then release them back to the field. I don’t recall there being a fence though.

  21. kevin peck

    My family was stationed at PHV ’69-’72 off San Juan Hill st. I went to 5th-7th grade at the Elementary school on site and the Middle school at Mark Twain. These were some of the most memorable times of my youth, partially because we were there for 3 years, the most we ever were stationed anywhere.
    As another reviewer commented it was a big deal when they painted all the apt. buildings a cream color from the original army green. We also were issued new bright blue living room furniture. We would probably cringe at the look now, but we were so excited about it back then. I remember going to the $.25 theater, the travel football Giants where we would have football camp for a week in the mountain behind the Heidelburg Castle, riding our bikes to the Schwetzingen pool in the summer and stopping at a field on the way to pick cherries to take in with us. The Halloweens were great with those large apartment buildings buildings that set up haunted houses in the basements where the storage and laundry rooms were. Kick the can games with 50+ kids was a popular activity during the summers. That was a more innocent time when the kids were told to go out and play and not come back until it was dinner time.
    I was planning a trip to Germany next year with my wife to show her where I grew up. To bad it’s closed now. Those are memories I can’t replace.

  22. Terri Carl

    I lived in PHV from 1976-79 grades 6th-8th at the new middle school, my address was 24 South Lexington, Loved it, going to the teen club on the weekends, It just brings back so memories, I think of those times often as I get older in age.

  23. Rosalie Musolino Byklum

    When we arrived in Heidelberg, June 1955, we had temporary housing downtown until PHV’s buildings were ready. We had a brand new apt on Bull Run Court, and I had my first very own bedroom! I attended PHV elementary school from first through third grades and took the bus into Heidelberg for fourth grade. My dad was Master Sargent at Tompkins Barracks all 4 years that we were there. Absolutely the best 4 years of my life!! And 60 years later, I have the best memories!!

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