Posts Tagged With: phv

Big Blue Balls, and Other Photos

I found a few pictures from my PHV days that seemed worthy of sharing.  First up, here are the big blue balls that I mentioned in my Luisenpark post.  See, I wasn’t crazy!  I’m sure me or my brother, or both of us, are in this picture, but it’s too blurry for me to be sure.


Next up is just a picture of PHV in the winter.  You can tell this is old because of the stripes on that van!


And finally, I was surprised to find a picture of me in that Halloween costume which nobody seemed to understand…check out my Halloween post for the details.  I’m trying to mimic the claw-hands of the monster.  Notice the rotary phone in the background, and the cutting-edge technology of VHS tapes!


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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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Heidelberg Bridge

I remember the Heidelberg old bridge, or Alte Brücke, being as much a part of the city landscape as the castle itself.  I think my eyes were always drawn to the high walls on the hill above, but the bridge was another landmark to be seen whenever we ventured out of Patrick Henry Village.


I recall that they used to light up the castle each night, and I’m pretty sure at some point we took in the view from either bridge itself, or from one of the long glass-topped tourist boats like the one seen docked in the above photo.  The bridge has quite a history going back hundreds of years.  I found this German-language Wikipedia page which, although I can’t read the text, seems to indicate that perhaps the bridge was covered at some point.  I also learned elsewhere that in World War II the retreating German army destroyed three of the bridge’s spans, making it one of the few architectural casualties for the city since it surrendered without a fight and was spared the bombing that destroyed many others.

Heidelberg_Castle_and_BridgeThere’s just one story I can conjure up related to the bridge itself.  One night we were standing on the bridge in order to watch a fireworks display.  As I recall, they had closed a bridge further down the river and were launching fireworks from there and perhaps from the castle as well.  Everything was going great, until it started to rain.  At that point, everyone on the bridge started to move for cover.  Our family, like everyone else, headed for the big white-towered gatehouse at the end of the bridge.


The problem was that the people in the front of the pack had decided to stop underneath the guardhouse to use it as shelter.  I’m not sure if our goal was to push through and keep going or if we were also seeking to stop under that imposing portcullis gate, but it became impassable very quickly.  Being very young, I didn’t have a good idea of what was going on but I remember the crowd of people and then somebody yelling out in English, “There are children here!”  My dad may have put me on his shoulders, I don’t remember clearly.


Eventually the blockage seemed to break and I remember us hurrying through the gatehouse and underneath the overhang of the building across the street, where we then tried to make our way back to the car without getting too wet.  This whole experience is sort of a hazy half-memory for me, but I do recall sensing the building panic in the moments before we were able to push through and finally get off the bridge.

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Heidelberg Reflections

Here’s an 8-minute video I came across with both Americans and Germans reflecting on the time that the Army was stationed in Heidelberg.

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Images of a Deserted Heidelberg

I just found the DVIDS Heidelberg gallery which has 26 images showing a deserted PHV, as well as Campbell Barracks and Patton Barracks.   At the site, click each picture to get a larger view and a descriptive caption.  The captions confirm that the big building at the extreme southern end of PHV was actually a commissary, so I guess residents no longer had to drive into town to the separate Army facility containing the PX, commissary, and other shops like we had to do back at the end of the 1970s/start of the 1980s.

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Campbell Barracks Closing Ceremony

I just came across the following video, celebrating the history of Campbell Barracks and highlighting the closing ceremony.  It’s sad to see the grass already overgrowing the sidewalks and the bushes growing wild. It must have been in a nearly-closed state for some time before this video was made.

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The Hedge Tunnel area

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.

The Dugouts

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.

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