About

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, roughly my kindergarten through fourth grade years, my family lived in a military housing complex outside of Heidelberg, West Germany, known as Patrick Henry Village.  There was at least one other major housing center in the area, Mark Twain Village, but this blog attempts to tell some of the stories of PHV, its host city of Heidelberg, and the surrounding area.

While looking up information on my old stomping grounds, I found myself lingering on the Google Maps image of Patrick Henry Village, which you can see here.  It probably doesn’t look like much to the average viewer, but to me it was a treasure trove of stories and experiences.  It seemed that almost every inch of the place evoked some memory, and I spent a long time scrolling back and forth, zooming in and out, and remembering.  As time went on I found myself wanting to record some of these stories and experiences, and finally I realized that a blog would be the perfect format.

The plan is to jot down these memories in non-chronological order and paint a picture of what it was like for a young boy growing up in an American compound in a foreign nation, and how for us kids it was much more than just an apartment complex for soldiers and their families stationed overseas.  I’m guessing that many of the wild locations and adventures revealed in these blogs may have been secrets long-kept by the schoolchildren of PHV…a sort of Neverland that went undiscovered by the mothers and fathers stationed there.

If you also spent part of your childhood in PHV, or if you were stationed there as an adult, hopefully these blog entries will inspire memories of your own which I’d love to hear in the comment sections.  I know there are more of you out there, I’ve caught hints and whispers of you as I’ve done some internet research on the area.  And if you’ve never been to PHV, never been to Germany, or never had any association with the US military, then my hope is that these stories will still entertain and trigger pleasant memories of your own personal Neverland.

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131 Comments

131 thoughts on “About

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  1. Christopher Wilson

    It’s so great to have found this site on PHV. I lived in the Heidelberg area from 1972 to 1976. We first lived in Wiesloch on the economy. I went to 3rd grade at MTV Elementary. We later moved to PHV, 31-D Alamo Circle. 4th grade with Ms. Philipps, 5th grade with Ms. Hammond and 6th grade with Ms Smith. So many great memories. The yearly carnival was so much fun. Getting to go to the Strauss by the teen club on special occasions for lunch. Crawling under the fence to get to Lizard Hill and pick Blackberries. Sneaking out the back gate in the Officers housing area to ride out bikes to Eppleheim. Our sixth grade ski week to Austria was a blast. Our building on 2 occasions got evacuated because of bomb scares, very terrifying. I have visit PHV a few times since we moved back to California. My sister’s husband was stationed there for 2 years and I got to visit them for Christmas 1987. Everything looked so much smaller than when I lived there. I love reading all of your posts.Wish I knew where all my old friends are.

    • Barry Finch

      Hi Christopher–we must have been in the 5th grade together–I was in Ms. Hammond’s class for 5th grade the year before the Middle School opened–and did a few months there before we PCS’d back to the States. We moved back to Heidelberg in August 1978 so I was at HMS for 8th, then HHS for 9-11.

      Somewhere I have a class photo from Ms. Hammond’s class.

      • Christopher Wilson

        I was in Ms Hammomd’s class 1974-75, 2 years before the Middle school opened. I was in Ms. Smith’s 6th grade class 1975-76. I moved back to the states April of 1976 and would of started at the new Middle School in 7th grade.

    • Hi, Chris. I graduated from HHS in ’77. Elaine Stewart back then😊

      • donald kerns

        Hey brindgingmom, all…

        I graduated from HHS in 75′ as a junior. This blog brings back so many great memories. I feel more than ever like a army brat – which was a amazing adventure. My family was stationed in Germany two times during my childhood from 60-62 in Kitzingen and then from 65-75+ in Heidelberg. I lived in PHV from 65-68 and then by army law we were required to move onto the economy. We lived in Schwetzingen right near Tompkins barracks for a few years and later lived just outside of PHV. I left in 75′ after graduation and came back to the US to live with my brother.

        Each time we went to Germany we traveled 2 weeks across the Atlantic on an ocean liner – so cool. The ship had everything – stores, movie theater, dining, events ….. A little scary when your cabin portal goes under water or when we hit rough seas…. I am always reminded by my brothers how much I cried because they wouldn’t let me fish/catch the porpoises riding the bow of the ship. Was a great pastime to watch cartoons at the theater. Loved Rockey and Bullwinkle….

        Reading some of the other blog entries brings back so many great memories. Honestly not sure how I survived childhood but that is another story. I remember picking green beans and other from farmers fields just outside the tennis courts, but only after clearing with the farmer. My brother had been shot in the butt with rock salt once before by the farmer when messing around on his property. Lpved exploring the old WWII ravaged farm house in the same area up the road and finding an old german coat and helmet. Going to the gummy store in Eppelheim buying coca cola, pacifiers, snakes, etc. gummies and selling them on base for 5 cents a piece. Yes I was pushing gummies…. lol. Watching the firework illuminations on the Rhine and boy what a party. Exploring the Heidelberg castle and history of Heidelberg. I was part of the party crowd – skinny dipping at the rock quarry, climbing up into a broken out ancient watch tower with lots of beer to watch illumination from mountain side. Times and place were different – and one of our favorite spots was a gasthaus just up the road outside the back gate of the officer’s quarters. Must admit even at 13 and up (no where near 21) they would serve us a full liter of good german beer without question. A class ring in a liter usually meant you had to chug it …..

        While there I wouldn’t be what you would call the school athlete – I was althetic but my games were tennis, bowling and motorcyles (brother raced in germany). My mother dedicated her life to the PHV bowling alley. Her name was Ruby – a grey haired 50+ spunky sweet hearted woman. She ran the bowling alley for the full time I was there and loved bowling. You may have met or know her. In the early days my brother ran the teen club. I worked there as well after school, spending a bit of time working and improving my pool and ping pong skills 🙂

        High school at HHS is a completely new blog from my point of view…. loved the school .. deserves a blog all by itself.

        Reflecting on being an army brat I find much of who I am today is structured around my past experiences as a brat. I still address people as yes sir and yes mam, open doors for people and say thank you when they open a door for me, understand the meaning of being a community, don’t understand the social segregation of classes since we were all family of one social class regardless of race, creed, religion or color, rank. Although some of officers wives did tend to wear their husband stripes on their shoulders 🙂 Racial prejudice was something totally foreign to me when I returned in 75′. I wouldn’t give up the experiences I had for anything………

      • Jan Kiessling

        Loved your blog entry about your growing up in Germany and PHV. So much of what you wrote was familiar to me and brought back good memories. It was a wonderful life ! Thanks for sharing !

      • Lou Ann

        Let it Patrick Henry village from 1964 to 1967 went to Patrick Henry elementary school. They don’t San Juan Dr. and the officers quarters. Loved living on the post. Went back in 1998 and visited Heidelberg and Patrick Henry village what a lovely place my heart aches that they had to close the post. Would love to see a big reunion of all that go up there.

  2. donald kerns

    Thanks Jan – such a great time for me and so many brats. Found a good link to others reflecting on PHV on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Patrick-Henry-Village/109788909047540

  3. Christine

    It was great to stumble on a blast to the past. So many people that also remember their childhood so vividly. Even street names! I also lived on Little Big Horn Strreet. A good location in view of the street from my bedroom window. Also 10 minutes walking distance to the H.M.S and also a 10 minute walk the other direction from my home to the bowling alley, library, & convenience store. I place myself in P.H.V. 1979-1981 (?) they discontinued pennies. The man at the convenience store said pennies aren’t worth the hassle. And that year instead of an icecream truck coming around the neighborhoods ..it was a small German car filled with candy & pantries. I regret not telling the German lady selling the stuff that she’s giving me silver dollar coins instead of quarters. I was ten or eleven yrs old.
    I was also so impressed about so many people remembering their favorite teacher’s name. I had a teacher in 6th & 7th grade that i was so fond of i want to say his name is Mr Hall but the uncertainty is nagging at me if it was Mr Wall. I must know. Does anybody else remember the best literature teacher to ever exist on this earth…can you clear up my confusion.

    • Idk about Hall, but Ms. McCaller was the BEST writing teacher at HHS in the late 70’s.😀 Do you remember her, Christie?

    • It was Mr. Wall. I was there approximately the same time you were and your details are pinpoint accurate. I was fortunate enough to enlist in the military and get the same MOS as my father and return to Heidelberg in 1993 prior to the crazy shutting down of many installations in USAREUR. Some of my teachers were Frau Heitzmann (Frau Paternostro after marriage), Mr. Pike, Ms. Welch, Mr. Duggan and Mr. Johnson was still in the organization as Principal. I would have to say that this site makes a statement on how different and special it was to be a part of the Heidelberg family…I have experienced nothing like it until this day.

      • Christine

        Well that explains why i kept having that nagging feeling that it was Mr Wall. Thank you im so grateful that you cleared that up. I wonder if we were classmates. I was the sensitive 6 grader that refused to dissect a frog & a cow’s eyeball. I just couldn’t do it. I remember hearing a couple of girls in agony while dissecting their frog’s so i wasn’t the only one grossed-out but i was the only one with a zero haha. Sensitive and slow…..
        Slow because it took me an entire semester to realize the reason my classmates were laughing everytime i raised my hand saying “Miss frau” Lien Haha (not positive about last name)

  4. Hoperanch1

    Does anyone know if you can visit the base today, and if so, how you go about doing that? My mom lived there in the early-mid 1960’s and I’d love to surprise her with a trip there. Thank you!

    • Tom

      Unfortunately, the various facilities are beginning their redevelopment and those that are still sitting dormant are mostly under lock and key or guarded. PHV is currently being used for temporary refugee settlement and is closed to non-refugees. I have heard various accounts that the guards are private security contractors and are NOT friendly about efforts to persuade them to allow even a quick drive through. The city is in the process of finalizing plans for PHV’s redevelopment after the refugees are relocated. It will take several years to complete, but it is expected to be mixed use (half residential/half office/retail) with 10,000 residents and 5,000 jobs. Demolition is well underway on the west side of Roemerstrasse in MTV, but new buildings in the place of the old building footprints are already approaching the stage of completed foundation pouring. Buildings on the east side of Roemerstrasse have been mostly renovated and are back in service as residential areas for Germans though there are a few that remain vacant awaiting demolition. The MTV chapel was still intact, but fenced off and the Foodland building (across from Campbell’s main entrance) was mostly demolished. The high school is open as a German school (Julius Springer Schule) and the adjacent grade school is finalizing its refurbishment now. It will also become part of Julius Springer Schule. The city just recently formalized its plans to retain and refurbish the high school gym for city use. Campbell is still locked though I managed to find a partially open gate and was able to get my rental in there for a quick drive around. It was a ghost town. Redevelopment/demo has not yet begun at Campbell. Patton Barracks is just now beginning its demolition on its way to becoming a mixed use Innovation Park. Nearly all buildings of Patton will be torn down (the only two to be saved is one of the barracks buildings and the small chapel). The hospital complex is still intact, but vacant. I’m not sure about its redevelopment plan. I didn’t go to Tompkins, but it seems intact from my drive-by. Bottom line- yes take your mom to Heidelberg, but focus on Altstadt and its amazing qualities because the old USAREUR bases no longer offer much to sightseers. Cheers.

      • Wow, you have so much info! Sounds kinda depressing (old US army buildings, etc). Did you attend HHS? In the mid70s? If so, do you recall the English and creative writing teacher Ms. McCaller?
        Thanks!
        Elaine

    • I live in the Netherlands now. I lived in Heidelberg In the late 60’s I was in Heidelberg a few time each time it sad for me to watch the fall of the Military go. First time was 2003 when things where still good. All was open. Just had to have a US passport to go on the post. Made husband mad at the time because he just a Dutch passport lol. Then was back in about 2012. And it was all closed down. It was sad. I have some pictures.

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