A Tribute To Benjamin Franklin Village Mannheim Germany

As I read over the June 1, 2011 edition of the Herald POST, which serves the communities in the U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg, it was a bittersweet experience. The article covered the deactivation ceremonies and contained some great photos and background on Benjamin Franklin Village. But as I read the newspaper, I was struck with a sense of both nostalgia and great sadness.

As a Military Brat, I lived in Benjamin Franklin Village from 1962 to 1966, and for me and many others, it was our home—where we went to school, trick-or-treated, played softball, went to Saturday Matinees or the Snack Bar, or the library and PX, and the many apartment buildings were where we ate meals, sometimes with our fathers present, and where we slept at night.

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I first learned about the closing of the U.S. Army Garrison in Mannheim from Prof. Dr. Christian Führer in late January of 2011.

Christian contacted me via email, regarding several articles he had found on Military Brat Life about the four years my family and I spent in Mannheim, living in Benjamin Franklin Village, and wanted permission to include some quotes from my articles in his book.

Christian wrote, “As a German national hailing from Mannheim myself, I have been involved in many German-American activities during the past thirty years, so the recent announcement of Mannheim’s 2014/2015 closure nearly broke my heart, but also gave rise to this project. The project is non-profit endeavor with all proceeds (if any will be generated) going to the Fisher House Foundation – specifically, to the Fisher House in nearby Landstuhl that allows the relatives of wounded soldiers to be near their loved ones.”

Christian was researching his book about how the U.S. Army Garrison and the many families and soldiers who came and went through the garrison were such an influence on the Mannheim community.

“My mother (who was 3 when the war ended) knew what a Hershey bar was, and you can’t find those here, because soldiers shared their rations with her and her family. It is astonishing to think about because Germany attacked the U.S., and here less than five years later, Soldiers are outside tossing pigskins to children, sharing their Cokes and were just generally very outgoing in nature,” said Führer. “The mentality of Americans seems to be, ‘We’ll weather through it all, as long as we stick together.’”

If you talk to any Military Brat who has lived overseas, our lives have been changed as we experience a different country, culture and people. And for me, while Benjamin Franklin Village was a large housing housing area and a microcosm of Americana surrounded by the rest of Mannheim, it was my home for four years, and our family’s base of operation, with the German country side and many quaint towns and castles within just a short afternoon drive.

Late in May of 2011, Elizabeth Casebeer, with USAG Baden-Württemberg Public Affairs, contacted me to arrange a phone interview about a Military Brat’s perspective on Mannheim and the closing of Benjamin Franklin Village for the Herald Post article she was writing, I felt a flood of emotions and I thought about what this meant to me and to others who had lived and worked in BFV.

Benjamin Franklin Village Disappears—In Plain Sight

It is hard to grasp the fact that what was “our town” will be no more, even if the buildings remain standing for years to come. It is the idea that the housing area where thousands of soldiers lived, their children played and went to school, will be gone, but the buildings will still be there for some time.

In the national news from time to time, I will read about a town that is devasted by flood or tornados, and almost without exception, the town is rebuilt and families who have lived there can return and continue their lives.

For military families, we all have a series of “home towns” and for many soldiers’ careers, the places they called home continue on. But over time the world changes and the mission of the military changes along with it. Bases close, and garrisons deactivate.

Only Memories Remain

As I think about the concept of garrison deactivation, it is like remembering a friend or relative who has passed on to the next life and all you are left with are the memories of that person. The places we grew up, like BFV, while not alive themselves, were alive with soldiers, their families, teachers, chaplains, and everyone needed to make a community whole.

When I was a child and my dad was on leave, my mother would sometimes take us by the place where her home once stood, out in the country outside Decatur, Alabama. All we saw were trees and pasture land, as the old “home place” had been sold before we kids were born and the house my mother had grown up in was torn down.

Now I know what she was feeling as she took us by to visit, and why she stared over at familiar trees. Even though the house my mother grew up in was long gone, the land was there where she had walked, and played, and the fields where she had helped harvest crops and even to pick cotton was still there.

The Bittersweet

It is a bittersweet feeling, knowing that another part of Germany which has been occupied for over sixty years, will be returning to Germany—that the cultural melting pot will be no more and that the interaction between the Americans living in Mannheim with their German neighbors will cease.

When I was a child, from the playground between the apartment buildings on Lincoln Avenue, past the fence topped with barbed wire, I remember seeing the rows of jeeps, trucks and other green vehicles and trailers–always ready to respond to an alert. They would sit there like silent, unmoving sentries. It is sad for for me to think that no U.S. Military children will grow up seeing and experiencing life at Benjamin Franklin Village as I did.

While it is sad for me, I think it is a good thing for Germany—that Germans may raise their children without the sight of fences topped with barbed wire, in a country that is no longer divided into East and West.

An Americana Microcosm—Well, Sort Of

While BFV had its own schools, PX, library, hospital, commissary, theatre and everything a U.S. military family needed, as a six-year old, it was the world outside the housing area where English was a second language, money was totally different, and all the candy was in unfamiliar packaging.

This was Mannheim, and the entire countryside outside Mannheim was filled with castles to be explored, as well as thousands of small towns with narrow winding roads, cobblestone streets and very friendly people who worked hard and loved living their lives.

As a child, living in what was called West Germany, since the Berlin Wall divided the country at the time, I learned about the history of Germany and World War II, and though we had ongoing warnings about unexploaded grenades, bombs and artillery shells, it was hard to imagine that there had so much destruction and bloodshed all around us.

In 1962, when I arrived in Mannheim, the city had been rebuilt and while there still was a danger of finding unexploded munitions from twenty years earlier, we saw little of the destruction of Germany during the war, except for a few historical sites we visited.

While we were in a sense isolated from German children as we grew up at BFV, Germans came and went daily, working around the garrison and some Germans sold door to door to make a living. From “starving artist” landscape paintings to encyclopedias, the large housing housing area with mostly stay-at-home moms were an easy target for salesmen. One of my fondest memories going with my mom to buy warm bread that from a nice Germany lady who drove through the neighborhood, selling out of the back of her small station wagon.

While my memories are from my childhood, I now realize that soldiers stationed at the garrison had a big impact on the local economy and that many friendships were made between Germans and Americans, and an exchange of our two cultures took place as Americans went off post and learnd about the culture around them.

Many soldiers married Germans and other European nationals, so it was common to hear several languages spoken besides English.  After a few weeks BFV was my home. Though at first so much of what I saw was very different from living in a surburban house in Columbus, Georgia, I gradually accepted the apartment buildings and the facilities provided at Benjamin Franklin Village as the norm.

I also learned that we were not in Germany to keep the Germans from returning to military power, but we were there because of a common enemy, the Soviet Union.

The impact of Living in Germany

I had no idea that growing up in Germany would impact my life in so many subtle ways.

All of the Saturday drives to castles and tourist attractions including museums and cathedrals, fueled my interest in art and architecture, and years later in college, while studying art, I could easily imagine myself back in Germany, looking around a 11th or 12th century cathedral and feeling the cool, stone walls that enclosed the space and created the feeling of heaven above.

In 1973, during my junior year of high school, my dad received orders to report to Friedburg, Germany. While I had spent four years at Fort Knox, and would miss my friends, I loved the thought of returning to Germany, my adopted country.

I lived for a few months with my family in Florstadt, Germany, while our family moved up the list for  quarters in Bad Nauheim, and it was an interesting turn of events to be one of only four or five American families living in the small town. It was great to see how our German neighbors lived, though it was no surprise. Our neighbors worked hard, played hard, raised their families and tried not to worry about the Cold War heating up.

I have not been back to Germany since I took a vacation there 1990, and I did stop by in Mannheim. I was traveling by train and while I did spend some time in Mannheim, I was not able to properly go down memory lane and walk around BFV. However, just knowing I was in Mannheim was a great feeling.

One day I hope to visit what was once Benjamin Franklin Village, and perhaps walk on the sidewalks I did as a child when going to the library, to school, or to the movie theatre and sometimes to the PX.

It is my hope that the City of Mannheim will keep a few street names the same as they are now, as a gentle reminder of the Americans who once were part of Mannheim, so I can one day find Lincoln Avenue again—and my way back home.

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164 Comments
  1. I too am a little sad at the closing of BFV.  I have so many fond memories of BFV and Mannheim and Germany in the 60’s.  Enjoyed your story.  Thanks for the memories!

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  2. What a great article.  I spent 2 years at BFV from 1967 to 1969 when my father decided it was time to retire.  I read with with all those pictures going through my mind.  It was almost like I was there again.  I don’t remember the street names as well, but I do remember we lived right across from the dispensery.  I can still remember the smells of the fresh bread and other pastries that were just outside in the parking lot.  I can remember the tank sounds from Sullivan that was in our backyard right across the fence.  Thanks for writing such a great article and bringing back those very fond memories.

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  3. I lived there from 1979 to 1981 (3rd – 5th grade). I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

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  4. MY FAMILY LIVED IN BFV JAN.77 TILL DEC.79. CANT REMEMBER ADDRESS. I WAS E-6 STATIONED COLEMAN BARRACKS AT C-2-67ADA CHAPARRAL. WONDERFUL MEMORIES.   TOM BAILEY

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  5. my family lived in bfv 1977 thru 1979. i was at coleman barracks with c-2-67ada chaparral/vulcan.

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  6. I’m sad to read that BVF is closing. My family lived there from about late 1963-65. The address I remember best was 66C Jefferson St. Joe Namath’s brother, John, lived in the apartment below us and I used to babysit his 3 girls.  After Dad was promoted to Maj. we moved into a duplex. Still have my Mannheim yearbook and sweatshirt- Go Bisons! My 6th grade teacher was Mrs. Lynde and my fave 8th grade teacher was Mr. Dove, science. After returning to the States, I kept in touch with 2 or 3 friends I made in Mannheim for many years. I remember going to the AYA after school and reading a lot since we didn’t have tv! Movies I think cost 25 cents and popcorn was about 10 cents. It was 50 cents for a big, long movie like “Lawrence of Arabia”. Used to take walks in the woods and see the bison, school mascot. I think I still have a picture of him somewhere! I have always been proud to be an Army Brat. What a great upbringing and way to see the world!

    I enjoyed your story and recollections too! Thanks for sharing them with us.

     

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  7. I too lived @ BFV 1961-1964,  went to the elementary school, I remember being surrounded by other children who where friendly, open, lively and without troubles.  “brats”

     

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  8. I lived at BFV 75 -77 good memories lots of exploring the woods and the  farm just outside of the village. Freshmen year and sophomore at the high school were fun ,played football and skiping school to ride the starssbahn into downtown mannheim .

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  9. I lived there from 1994 until 1996 and I honestly can say that I miss the place and all the fun and memories that I have of BFV.. Great time WOW

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  10. Thanks for the memories. We lived there from 1968 until 1970 and those were some of the best years of my life. I can still remember our address – 44B Lincoln street. I played little league baseball and joined the boy scouts too. I think the troop number was 527. Going camping back then was pretty exciting because ther was a lot of stuff left over from WWII that you would come upon out in the forrest around Mannheim. I made alot of friends there and I wish that I had been able to get back there for a visit.

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  11. I  lived in B.F.V.  from 1974 thru 1976  and have memories from there that will last a lifetime. I went to  Darmstadt Career CTR. , enjoyed skiping afternoon classes at M.A.H. and riding the trains to adventure.

    It is sad to read of B.F.V’s closing  but so many of us will never forget our time spent there.

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  12. I lived in B.F.V from 1974 thru 1976 and I had some of the best times in my life there.I’ts always sad to read about yet another base closing but memories of B.F.V.  will live on for quite some time for so many.

    Go Bisons!!

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  13. Hi Paul, I went to Frankfurt American High School during the 73-74 school year (Class of 74), and we had some riders on our bus from Bad Nauheim who also went to the Darmstadt Career Center. I do regret not being able to have maybe two years at FAHS so I could have taken some courses there, but that is water under the bridge.

    Glad you also had a chance to experience BFV as well.

    Maybe one day we can get a group together to have a meetup there and go down memory lane.

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  14. I’m one of those “natives” that was fortunate enough to become an American Army brat through marriage of my German mother & American Step-dad.  We moved to BFV in ’72 when I was 5. We lived at 20-b Washington street &  I remember being so proud to be allowed to live with the Americans! I loved my childhood there &  can say I helped build the middle school where they let all the local kids hand over bricks and bring in books! Thoroughly am enjoying reading everyone’s memories. We were there ’til ’77 & eventualyl made it to the states & have been here since!  I am hoping to get back to Mannheim to visit my german neighborhood in Gartenstadt and also hopefully the base at BFV.  So am I reading correctly, it will still be partially open til 2014/2015? I still have time!

    T 🙂

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  15. I’ve lived at BFV from 1970 to 1976 at 73 A Jefferson St.  I graduated in ’75 and my brother in ’76.  Tak about wonderful memories living on base and graduating……Will always cherish those times.

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  16. Thanks for the memories! I lived in BFV as a dependent and as a solider. I went to Mannheim from 66-67, played in a local Band and had a great time! I later returned serving in the Army and my housing over looked the same field you described in front of the school.

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  17. My sister and I including my mother and father (a major at the time who was in Military Police Customs in Heidleberg) lived at Benjamin Franklin Village in Mannheim in 1956.  We went to school in the 6th grade down the street from where we lived at 65B on Jefferson.  I raised and lowered the American flag at the school as a member of the safety patrol.  I recall being in the Christmas pageant at the school and the “angel” was my first crush a girl named Suzanne Schultz whose father was a colonnel and lived in a two story single residence.  I was a boy scout and I rode my bicycle throughout the country side including down trails where tanks would practice.  The school had a food drive for the hungarian refugees and we went through BFV soliciting food.

    Sadly when I returned to visit Manheim and Benjamin Franklin village where it was and open residential area with free access for Americans and Germans to come and go there now was a perimeter tall chain link fence with razor wire around the whole village and I was not allowed to enter the Village…so sad.  At that returning moment it was just a memory in my mind as it was gone forever never allowing me to return.

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  18. lived at 51f washington street 1989-1991

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    • I was an E6 at HHB 2/67 ADA in the FAAR platoon from 1975 to 1979.  I lived in BHV and later in Frankenthal.  I visited Mannheim and Sullivan three years ago and was shocked at how much had changed.  Hearing of the closure brings back a flood of memories.  I coached youth league football on my off hours and wonder from time to time how the kids are doing.

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  19. Thank you for your tribute to BFV Mannheim Käfertal. Your article really touched me.I was born in 1947 in Mannheim, raised in Viernheim, which means that I passed BFV many times by OEG Strassenbahn since I was a young child.

    I always tried to imagine what was going on behind that big Sullyvan sign. When I was liitle in the early 50s I saw these big Military trucks passing by my parents house. We kids would run on the street and wave at  the GIs. You ask yourself what impact your stay in Germany had on you.

    I can assure you that of course there has been an impact on the German children too. As for me I think it broadend my mind towards other people and everything that was not Viernheim. Maybe as a result of my being curious for anything different  than “home”.

    I live in Sweden for the past 35 years, but I`m always open to meet people from different countries.

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  20. I lived in BFV from 1954-1956 and I am so sorry to see that it has closed. My family loved our entire time there and the wonderful German people that we met. My father used the opportunity to take us all over Europe while we were there and this had a profound effect on how I thought about other peoples and the world in general. I went to a summer camp one year but someone neglected to tell me to change my clothes and when I came home I was quite ripe.

    My family still reminds me of this. It was like a dream for a child and at this stage of my life it hardly seems to have been real but it was. The only difficult time was during the Hungarian revolt in 1956 and my father was on alert for many days and we hardly saw him as we hovered by the radio and listened to the news. I had the honor to visit that square in Budapest in 2007. Times change and sweet memories sometimes are all we have left. These were among the most wonderful memories of my life.

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  21. I lived in BFV (17-F Jefferson St) from 74-79.  I believe I had the best possible childhood there.  I remember walking past the fence to the little German store where we would buy candy.  Sometimes we would walk down the streets of German houses just to meet the people.  I remember thinking how wonderful the German families were – the ladies were often outside greeting my sister & I.

    When I think of Germany, all I have is love for the land and the people.

    Thank you for sharing your memories of BFV.  Your article took me on a stroll down a beautiful memory lane.

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  22. Thank you Colleen, for your positive comment and echoing what most of us felt and experienced.

    I tell people that growing up in a military family 
    is where things are always changing, but some things
    don’t change much at all.

    It is great that we and others were able to experience
    BFV and the overseas life. 

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  23. My name is Christina Wert. I had lived in Mannheim, BFV for 15 years. To me, this was more than just a home, this was my life, this was my sanctuary. I woke up every morning, and I felt safe. I was a child in heaven. Taking the strauss to the Mall was a regular thing for me, or going to downtown Mannheim. Mannheim molded me, and shaped me into who I am today. When I found out that Mannheim was closing, my heart stopped. This was the most beautiful place in the World to me, and it’s being taken away from all future possibilities. I remember my father’s company BBQ’s, I remember walking to the mall, going to the shoppette, I remember when they built the Skate Park on Washington St., I can remember them re-renivating all the housing, I was there before we had playgrounds, and I remember the metal poles at the end of the playgrounds pretty much WERE our playgrounds, I can remember when the “wood park” was dangerous, and then they tore it down and built a new one, I can remember before you needed ID cards to access base, and before they started putting scanners on ID cards, I can remember when we had fests and German’s would over run our Commisary and PX…I remember when we had Baskin Robins, and all these other crazy places, and our power zone was on the other side of it, I remember when our commissary was where the PX is now, and the PX was smaller. I have lived through all these changes on that base, I even remember when they re-renivated our Theater and we couldn’t have been happier that it was finally done. Ha. I can remember riding my bike for the first time, and sitting outside on the 4th of July waiting for that last firework to shoot out so my father, brother and I could go running for that flag,….We caught nearly every year for a while ha. I remember staying out all night every 4th of July catching “June bugs” haha. I remember wearing uniforms to school, man did I hate that, and I remember going to High School. I remember Mr. Porter most of all, he was my Algebra teacher, and the best damn Alegebra teacher at that, if he happens to stumble across this I hope he is aware of that. My whole childhood, my whole teenage-hood took place in Mannheim, there is so much more I could say, especially about places off base, but it’s what took place on base that I wanted to share. I wouldn’t take back my childhood for anything in the World. I miss my childhood EVERYday because of Mannheim. I’m joining the Military now, and I wish Mannheim were still open so that I could go back once more and at least say goodbye to a place so lively. I am at least lucky to have had so much of it. It will ALWAYS be a part of me that I will never let go of.

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  24. I lived in BFV from 1969-1972.  I had Mr. Delage for 6th grade, he was a very important teacher to me and I wish I knew where he was today!  I also just worshipped Mrs. Busby the choir director at the high school, and I believe that I’m a professional musician today partly because of her.  We lived on Jefferson St;, Jackson St and for the last 18 months on Grant Circle.  I think about those days a lot! 

     

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  25. I haven’t returned to Germany since I left there in 1972, but I have returned to West Point, the Military Academy where my dad taught for four years.  Unfortunately my husband and I couldn’t go on base to see my old quarters, either — there’s a bus tour that goes through the public areas but no quarters.  My folks retired near the Army War College, and it’s all locked down too, so most of the houses I grew up in are verboten.  So sad.  Still, the memories are great! 

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  26. Yvonne,

    We lived at 17-F Jefferson Street from 1970-73.  I have several brothers and sisters that you might have known–David Smith, class of 74, Vicky-77, Mike-78, Steve-79.  I was class of 80, so you probably didn’t know me.  I only went to the elementary school.  David didn’t attend his senior year there, he left after his junior year.

    Terry

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  27. Colleen,

    What a coincidence!!  We lived in 17-F Jefferson Street from 1970-73.  Your family must have moved in right after we left!  The bedroom my sister and I shared overlooked the playground with the big mushroom monkey bars.  It’s a small world.  There were 6 kids in my family, so 8 of us lived in those quarters.

    I remember the candy store, and the farmer with the delicious cherry tree.  We’d walk to the swimming pool (I think there were 7 pools) past the field of wheat (?).

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  28. Lived in Feudenheim/Mannheim ’54-’57,attended Heidelberg American High School…remember the “Teen Club” in Feudenheim…we lived “on the economy”..had my junior prom in the Heidelberg Castle…remember the “Wackleburg Gasthaus”.

    MaryAnn

     

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  29. I still have the feeling of not belonging in the world of civilians. It has bee over 25 years since my family rotated out of Germany (BFV), but has since stayed in contact with most of my classmates, boyfriends, and old teachers. Thank God for the experience that we had. So many don’t get what we had and I’m glad for it. One Love BFV and Mannheim Germany, you are and will always be truly missed.

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  30. Thanks so much for the article. My best childhood year was spent in Mannheim ’59 to ’60. I returned in 2005. All was changed…fences, barbed wire, barricades…just like between East and West Germany.  Thanks, 9/11. All that we loved was already ruined before the closing. Your article is a beautiful memoir.

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  31. We lived in Mannheim for many wonderful years, leaving when I graduated in 1976.  Used to live on 23C Jackson St, then we moved onto the economy.  I remember the wonderful hobby shop on Sullivan Bks, the “German” store between Jackson St & Grant Circle, and of course the path through the woods to the water works & little zoo.  Belonged to Boy Scout troop 313, transatlantic council.  Remember the PX & checking out the new toys.  I went back last year & have an album on FB of what BFV now looks like.  Still recognizable, but sad to see it largely abandoned, and most places closed.  Also, because of the terrorism threat, it is locked down extremely tight.  No more shortcuts from the end of Lincoln to Grant Circle or from Jackson St by that great Geman store.  However the memories will always be there!

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  32. My family lived in Mannheim from  1977- 1980. We will miss you BFV!

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  33. I am a military brat that lived on Lincoln Strasse in 14D Building 190, right beside the BurgerKing/Anthony’sPizza from 2004-2007. I remember the playground between the buildings and the fence over which you could see the jeeps (I remember losing a few toys over that fence too.) I remember the weird windows in the apartments along with the roll down shades(and the weird lightswitches). I remember the doorhandles (instead of doorknobs) that one of my cats learned to open. I remember standing in the line for the first night of The Incredibles at the theater (you could see the end of the line from my house). Being a military child and living in different places for a few years, it becomes rather surreal to look back and think about the places you’ve been. You can remember each one vividly yet you know you will probably never see that place again. I had always dreamed of visiting the places that I have lived after I had finished with school and had enough money in my pockets. Hearing that BFV had been shut down (only halfway through my Sophomore year of highschool mind) was quite devastating. Now, finding the few friends that I know still live over there (because they have a German family member mostly) will be much harder because they’ve all been scattered.

    I will always keep BFV in my heart because it was the place that shaped me and my personality and dreams the most.

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  34. Thanks so much for this wonderful article.  Mannheim (Funari Barracks) was my first duty station as a 2LT in 1992.  I was lucky enough to have a second assignment from 1998-2001 at Sullivan Barracks.  I retire in a month and it is sad to know that BFV is closed.  The good news is that I hope to take a military hope there in a week and hopefully I can take some good photos and walk the area. It will be a good closure to my Army career. 

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  35. OMG! So many wonderful memories!! I miss Germany so very much!

    The candy store!!! I remember the “sour pickles” and those jaw breakers that came in the two pack, either sour or the not sour kind! Does anyone know the name of that store or where I might look online to buy those candies!!! 🙂 Please let me know, I will be forever in your debt!

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  36. I was in Mannheim from 1980 to 83 and in Garlsted from  84-87. I was in the Army. BFV was a great place. I remember taking my german girlfriend and family to BFV for the 4th of July. They just loved the american ice cream in the small box you could buy. I will miss BFV when I go back on vacation. What a great place and area. 

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  37. I was there from 1972 to 1976 I don’t remember much about the street name or address, but I do know we lived across the street from the dispensary and in walking distance of the elementary school.  My mom had taken odd jobs on the base like cleaning the MP station and the Highschool.  I started kindergarten there and only half of first garde.  I remember some of the USO tours we did.

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  38. You might know my older sister or my middle siste there names are Vickie and Kay.

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  39. Great tribute Vann.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  While I only lived there for 13 mos. as an Army Brat, I instantly had a group of caring fun friends. That was my Senior year in 1978 at MAHS.  Great times.  Wonderful memories.

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  40. I lived in Mannheim for three years, from October 1954 to July 1957. The first six months, we lived in an apartment on Washington, then moved to a requsitioned house in town- it even had a swimming pool! In the summer of 1956, the US began returning all the requisitioned properties, icluding some really neat clubs and snack bars, so we were moved back to BFV- this time to 55 Grant Circle. It was a brand new houes, with our back facing a large agricultural area.

    I went to Heidelberg High School my first two years, and for my senior year, was in the first graduating class of the brand new Mannheim American High School. Somehow, I was elected senior class president, and had a great time that year trying to establish traditions, such as selecting the team mascot and name (Bisons). The 510th Tank Bn at Sullivan Barracks was a successor unit to the olf Tenth Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers), and had a pet baffalo they kept in the kaserne. We made a deal with the unit CO to bring the buffalo to all the home footbal games, which was quite a coup.

    After graduation, I attended Georgia Tech, and was commissioned a 2nd Lt after graduation. I had always dreamed of being stationed in Germany on my own, but it was not to be- tours in Korea and Vietnam were to be my lot, except for a REFORGER Exercise in September of 1963. I left the Amry in 1970, and went to work for Delta Air Lines, where I retired as an international Captain. As such, I made many trips to Germany, including a couple of visits to BFV. My retiement flight was to Stuttgart, and the crew party was held in Heidelberg at the Milkenkur, which had been a civilian club in the mid-fifties. Great memories.

     

    Bill Gibson

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  41. My husband, Tom Thompson, was stationed at Coleman Barracks and worked in Mannheim from 1963-65. We lived in Lampertheim on Freidrickstrasse. My son, Steve Thompson, went to the first grade in BFV. That was our center for commissary, post office, dr, laundromat, etc. I returned to Germany in 1998 and 1999 when my son was stationed at Larson Barracks near Wurzberg. We visited Mannheim, BFV, and Coleman Barracks and I enjoyed the memories. We reconnected with my old landlady and had a great visit. I loved Germany and the opportunity to travel and enjoy the wonderful life there. If there are any pictures available, I would like to know. Nancy Thompson Smith

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  42. I was stationed at Coleman and Lived at 26E Jackson Strasse from 1985-1990,,, What a great time to be there !!! Was able to visit in 2003 on my way to BiH. Went back to the old homestead on Jackson,parked the car and walked to the PX and around Sullivan. For a short time, I was taken back to those days 13yrs before and all those memories,,,,,I was amazed how much I missed it all,,,,,,,

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  43. 19D Washington St.66-69

    Going to the AYA for fries, walking to Boy Scouts.  Whenever I hear Snoopy & The Red Baron or Gary Puckett I’m right back there.

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  44. We lived at 48E Jefferson Street from June 1964-June 1966. For three months, we lived in Mannheim, near a huge park near one of the barracks. (I can’t remember which one.)

    We had a playground right next to our apartment, and the church was at the far end. The AYA was across the street from the church.

    Someone said tickets to the movies were 25 cents. I remember them being 15 cents with popcorn being a dime. There were Saturday matinees that would show a cartoon, have a serial, a short comedy, and then a movie.

    My two brothers were older, and they had some crazy friends. The one “character” I remember was a guy called Weasel. He was the first kid with “long” hair.

    It was a wonderful place that I’ll never forget.

     

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  45. I was telling my son about collecting comic books last night and remembered several things.

    One had to do with comics. You’d put the comics you wanted to keep in one box and the ones you wanted to trade in another. About every night, either you’d walk from door to door or someone would come to your door, and knock. The codeword was “Trade.” If a parent answered, usually they knew what it meant.

    The other was “The German Store,” which was located near the officer housing. I’ve never found anything to compare to the brotchen they had (at 10 phenning each.) And they had sour sticks, which were similar but not the same as sweet tarts. And gummi everything.

    Christmas was special. I got a sled for Christmas 1964, and it snowed for the first time that year on Christmas eve. People would paint their large picture windows.People would go out caroling, the only place where I lived that they did that.

    I remember the carnival that was held each summer on the football field. The field by the AYA was pushed down so you could cut through. I remember how the Germans hated it when you’d run into them on the bumper cars. The only rides I really remember were the bumper cars and the swings that’d go around.

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  46. I lived in Mannheim from 67-70.  My father and mother retired and lived in Viernheim.  I then joined the Army and came back twice to Mannheim (once in Sullivan Barracks, 5/68 Armor, 8th Inf Div and then a second time to 7th Sig Bde in Coleman Bks.).  I lived in Germany for a total of 22 years (lived in Murnau Germany from 59 to 65).  The life, culture and bonds that we all enjoyed, created and experienced will never go away nor be replicated.

     

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  47. Like everyone else, I have fond memories from the time I lived in BFV.  I lived in BFV from July 1982 (8th grade) to June 1984 (the end of my Freshman year) and my dad was assigned to 3/8 Cav at Coleman Barracks.  

     

    I was on the Mannheim Marlins swim team and got to see many places during my time as a member of the team.  How many kids can say they got to travel to West Berlin on the Duty Train and swim in the swimming pool where Mark Spitz earned his gold medals within a six month period?

     

    Then there was the 3/8 Cav rivalry in my 8th grade AJROTC class.  My stepdad was a 1Lt and his squadron’s commander son was in my class.  The rivalry between Anthony Trifelleti and I came down to the wire.  We had similar grades at the end and it came down to me receiving the Superior Cadet medal at the end of the year.  By the way, I won.

     

    Yes, I’m like most that have posted and agree that BFV will be missed; however it will always live on in our hearts and the stories we tell people about living in Mannheim, Germany.

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  48. I am at a lost for words..i have lived in Mannheim from 1993 until 2005 half of my adult life the best times the best people and best things i have ever meet,done,seen,joked about,cried about,  where all in done in mannheim.all of my extended family is in mannheim Germany.

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  49. I’m not from the US and I have never lived in the BFV but I am from Mannheim and I lost something I will ever remember. We spent a lot of time when we were young in the 80’s in the village. We had each year one day where my class in school visiited the High Scholo in the village. We were there when the first Burger King opens and when we tried for the first time meat ball pizza. We had found a lot of new friends and they were our friends not anything else. This was a part of my hometown, this was part of the culture of young Mannheim people and we never want to miss that! It’s sad that our children will not be able to make that experience, to just have a little US in the heart of Germany. 

    As of today the village is closed nobody left and we are so sad! We already miss you guys and we don’t understand what Wiesbaden (this is were they moved to) has that we don’t have…

    We will keep BFV and Patrick Henry Village (which will close next year) always in our memory and we will think about all the happy moments we had shared in the past! We will remember all the great German-American Volkfests we had and all the fun we had!

    WE MISS YOU!

    Paul.

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  50. We lived in Frankenthal from 1992 to 1995, and I went to Mannheim Middle School during that time. I remember having to cross a bridge to get to the buses over at the High School. Playing wall-ball with my friends..  there was a Thrift shop across from the school that I bought my first bean bag chair at. I remember seeing Jurassic Park in the Theatre there as well. If anyone went to school with me, or lived in Frankenthal during those years, feel free to get ahold of me on Facebook. 

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  51. We did two tours of BFV the first tour was at bad hamburg, frankfurt and eventually bfv on washington street. I attended first grade at bfv elementary school. Our second tour of BFV was January 1967 through June 1970. Many wonderful memories, this time on Jefferson Street.

    going to the commissary once a month to get the allotment of groceries, going to hockenheim to the formula one races, the great food and friends we met along the way. going through checkpoint charlie to get a glimpse of history…and now seeing someone i went to high school with in a town 40 miles away…army brats never had one place to call home, so their home is the world….

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  52. I too, have awesome fond memories of Mannheim, BFV & Sullivan Barracks; however, my memories come from the military side. I arrived in Mannheim from Ft. Gordon, GA in Dec ’79 as a brand new PVT, in those days a Private made approx $499.00 a month. believe it or not I am still in the Army, Active Duty. I got out in March ’85, spent thirteen years in Reserve Component and went back in in 1997 to present. I have traveled the world, had a plethora of duty stations: Korea, Qatar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Gordon, Polk, Huachuca… and mannheim remains my MOST-FAVORED assignment, 6/68 Armored Battalion, Sullivan Barracks. In those days REFORGER was “The Annual Event” traveling the country-side in old deuce and a halves, Gama-Goats, soft sided jeeps was the bomb. Kaiserslaughtern, Vielsek, Fulda gap, Hoenfels, Baumholder… WOW!!!!!!!!!! I’ll end now because if not I could go on and on and on…. Ich bin eine Mannheimer

    Robert E. Coleman

    SFC, USA

    25W (Telecommunications Chief)

    about to PCS for the umpteenth time to Kuwait, Camp Arifjan

    Robob117@Hotmail.com

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  53. Hi Robert, Thank you for your service to our country!

    My mother showed me one of dad’s pay stubs from the mid 1960s . . . I think it might have been around $500 or $550 . . . Not sure how mom and dad made the paycheck stretch with three kids!

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  54. Hi Robert,

    what a crazy world. Since my last post above I learned that the US Army is building up over 300 single houses from the ground in Wiesbaden where they moved most of the BFV guys moved and the Heidelberg guys will move. The BFV was completly renovated in 2009 and the apartments are in good shape. The PX also and the Comm was not too old, too. So instead of keeping this they build up hundrets of new houses for millions of dollars.. what a mess!

    So as of today, BFV is empty and nobody knows what to do with it.. Sad story. I keep you updated on this…

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  55. I was raised in Mannheim. Mom was German and daddy was military for a many years. We stayed in Germany the times that my dad was deployed to varies places. So I know BFV very well.. I graduated from Mannheim American High School in 1973 and then married an MP from Sullivan Brracks we left Germany in 1974. I go home every year for 3 weeks. I still have family there. It’s so sad to see the bases closed down. It’s like a ghost town. I had some very good memories there growing up and meeting new people. Keeping in touch with quiet a few from high school.

     

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  56. I lived on Lincoln street, right before you turned onto Jackson street to turn left.

     

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  57. I too am sorry to see BFV close. I lived there with my family from 1972 to 1975. I was in 7th – 9th grade and had a blast. Favorite teacher was Mr. Hoffman, Shop and The World of Manufacuring. I remember Mach Nichts circle, PX & Commissary. The auto bahn close on Sundays because of the fuel crisis. Actually played on the autobahn. Played football at with the AYA Chief travelling team, All Stars too. Plates of fries across from the school with the juke box playing Chuck Berry, My Ding a Ling, Ha-ha. Also joined the Army in 1980 and would you believe I got stationed at Sulllivan Barracks…3/68 Armor….Loved the gunnery trips and the V-Area, Kafertal Bars and Downtown Mannhiem Clubs. Was drinking beer at a Volksfest beer tent in the Theater/Bowling alley parking lot when one of our guys stole a tank and went joy riding down the Autobahn to downtown…chased him in a car all the way to the river bridge where he drove off and drowned himself…no way we could stop him. So many memories, the candy stores, strass stop sandwiches and beer. The Schnitzel ranch. Ladenburg. Lived on economy there too. I miss all of that and I miss the German people…I grew to love.

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  58. I lived in BFV 2 times 66-68 (Prek TO 1) on Columbus Str. & from 70-73 (4-6 grades) at Linclon Street. 

    Have many very fond memeries and sad to see my ‘home town’ closing.

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  59. My dad was stationed in Mannheim from 1961-1964. Before my mother, grandmother, and I could join him, he had to find us a place to live on the economy until base housing had space. The base school bus picked up brats in Weinheim, and then near where we lived in Viernheim. We had “rotated” from the North Shore of Long Island to Germany August of my senior year. One night, a jeep arrived and whisked (as much as a jeep can whisk) my dad, an ordinance officer, away. We didn’t hear from him for over a week. August, 1961…the Wall. Although we’d been stationed in Athens, Greece, for three years, we had never lived on a base. BFV was my first and only and will always have a special place in my heart. First temporary housing on the top floor of an apartment building (I think we had 6-8 bedrooms) and then officers’ housing on Grant Circle.

    Thanks to the Internet, many of us Mannheim brats have found each other and have enjoyed reunions; however, I haven’t been back to Mannheim since the summer after my first year of college, 1963. I remember having two different jobs on base…summer after my senior year, before I left for Penn State, I worked in the snack bar at Coleman Barracks. The summer of 1963, I made popcorn in the base movie theatre. Both jobs paid 50 cents an hour.

    I’m incredibly proud to claim the U.S. Army as my hometown.

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  60. My name is Panis,I was an Army wife living in BFV in78,79,80.We had three children Dee,Melody & Joni Tilghman.My husband was SFC. Jimmy C.Tilghman, now deceased.He was a Mess Sgt.@Coleman barricks.We lived@ 36 E Washington,Strausse.Third floor, left hand side.Three years of growing up, while my husband did his military job,I did the wife thing,I raised our children.Years of joy I will always have in my memories.Germany was a beautiful country,how I would love to go back with my now 3 grown children,just for the memories!

     

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  61. My family and I lived in BFV from 1974 to 1979. We were civilians. My husband, Milton Harris taught at the high school and later at the middle school.  He was also the high school basketball coach and coached a German basketball team. We lived at 28 D Jackson. I loved living in Germany. The feeling of being part of the military family and the kindness of the German people made being so far away from home a wonderful experience for us.  I will never forget it.  We felt very welcomed.  Thanks for the memories here on this site. So sorry to again say goodbye to BFV.

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  62. I lived in BFV from 1972 to 1974. Our family had great times there while my dad was stationed with the 97th Sig. Battalion. My older brother worked at the Commissary as a bag boy, my 2 older sisters baby sat other children, while my younger brother and me played Cowboys and Indians with friends in the basements of many apartment buildings. I used to walk my younger brother to his nursery school, then head to the elementary school on the other side. Tuesday nights, I had Country and  Western night, and would dress up in duds and square dance with a cute red head named Chritine. I had my first communion in the chapel across the street from the AYA. I started Cub Scouts and bought my entire uniform at the PX for 9 dollars. Heading to Wertkoff department store on weekends was a treat…I stayed in the LEGO section for hours while mom shopped. I remember at Christmas, when every family would decorate their living room windows with fake snow and holiday greetings. We were a close knit bunch, and I will always have fond memories of my childhood spent in BFV.

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  63. I’m sad that my true hometown has closed and there will be no BFV….I came there in January 1968….I was 7 years old and starting a new adventure as the new kid in school….I’m the true military brat…..I was born at FT Benning….my dad was a drill sergent….my mom was in the Army before she had me and my little brother…..I remember living on economy and having a cleaning lady that loved me as much as my mom did…..I remember playing outside and learning to play marbles and kids trading comic books at your door step…..I remember Cub Scouts and being a alterboy at mass….having lunch at the AYA because our school did haven’t have a lunch room…..or a gym…..I remember going to the Heidelburg zoo on a blue Air Force bus with my brother and other kids…..learning to keep an eye out for Soviet cars…..my dad was a senior enlisted security MP……I miss the german artist painting our big bay windows for Christmas and how I would hate to help my mom was the windows and it all would go away…..Bummer

    But, the best part of living there was learning I could take care of myself and having the best of my childhood living at BFV….we didn’t have all of the stateside stuff that they have now……I’ll keep those memories and pictures in my heart….

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    • Dear Former Army Buddy from Coleman, I returned to Mannheim & Sullivan Barracks back on 6-1983! Was very pleased to see the upgrades being done. Met my former friend in downtown Mannheim in front of his resturant who’s name was Jack, & he had tears in his eyes to believe a soldier would come back after 16 yrs! We ate in his resturant. Kafertal Val was the getting off point which was right across the Strasse from Sullivan Barracks. I did duty on the front gate as an SP Guard.We had the years of the Cold War when Willy Brandt was the Chancellar Of Deutschland. Signal Corp.97TH Company A Lineman. Best Regards, Mike

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  64. We lived in BFV from Apr 70 to Jun 73. I was 12 when we arrived. Although I had been born in Germany during my dad’s first assignment there, I had never seen it. I pictured rolling hills and wide-open spaces so imagine my dismay when I woke up the first morning, looked out the window of the temps and saw the AAFES gas station. We lived on Jackson street the first two years and then moved to Taylor Street for the last. My folks took my brother and I to see the Heidelberg castle and the surrounding countryside almost every weekend when we first got there. “Hey, mom and dad, what part of this castle being a ruin escapes you?” I still give them a hard time about that.

    I did a quick visit to BFV in the late 1990s to show my kids where I had lived for a while. At the time I was stationed at Laage Air Base near Rostock (northeastern Germany) while serving as a USAF exchange pilot flying MiG-29s with the Luftwaffe. We had done a weekend BX/comissary run to Ramstein Air Base and drove through BFV on the way back. I took them to the Heidelberg castle and made them get out in the rain to look at the ruins. They remind me of that from time to time. I tell them to blame their grandparents.

    I’m sad to hear of BFV’s demise. I still have my Bison letter jacket (and it still fits!)

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  65. I lived in Mannheim, on Washington Strasse from 1985 until 1988. I have find memories of Brownies, Mannheim Elementary School, and playing at the Rec Center, and the festivals that came thru. It was a magical time for me. I miss seeing Buffalo Park, and the markets off-base. I will remember that time for the rest of my life.

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  66. I can’t believe BFV is now a ghost town!! I lived in Mannheim 57-58-59 at 13A Jackson St. Went to the Elem. school for 3rd,4th,5th and part of 6th grade. LOVED playing army out in the woods,going to the AYA and theatre. I remember the Lebanon Crisis in 58–Sullivan Barracks was a beehive of activity!! It was a great time in my life-many great memories!!!

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  67. I lived there from 1993-1995. My 10th and 11th grade years. There are a lot of memories of living here, both good and bad. 

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    • Paul

      I have alot of those volkfest mugs that I walked in the 80’s

      -Paul

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      • We were there 1971-74. I too am an alumnus of Troop 527, Ken Bogue and Jim Bostancic were scoutmasters those years. Great camping trips around Mannheim, and a memorable historic trails hike along the Rhein past the Lorelei, die Mauseturm in Bingen, and Schloss Rheinfels. Used to walk through the farm fields west of BFV to the pool complex in Kafertal. 10 m platform in the diving well, and great pomme frites at the concession. Used to occasionally get chased by the farmers there for helping ourselves to their cherry trees.

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        • I was in Troop 527 in 62-63. Had a scout jamboree in the high school football field one year and it snowed all night…how wonderful it was. We transfered to Bad Toelz in 64 or 65.

          Bob

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          • Bob during that period of time 1961-1964 , I was also a Boy Scout in troop 7, there also was another Troop 303. The Army used to take us camping into the woods in their military trucks, and we many learned military skills, which unknown to me and perhaps others came very handy when we ended up in Vietnam. Boy do I miss being a kid, I miss still think of all the firends I had, will cherish all of them good or bad.

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    • @Paul Ericson: I strongly miss the quiet and order that was Mannheim in 1966-1968. Very much enjoyed the walks of my family in the Kaefertal, a typically beautiful German forest.

      Cheers

      BW

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  68. Terry, I lived at 17F Jefferson from 82-85..small funny world..to meet the brat that lived where you did..

    PJ

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  69. I lived in Mannheim, Germany for 11 years. Since I was in 5th grade until a year or so after I was out of highschool.  It was a great time, the best times of my life. It’s sad to know that my “home” is no longer there.

    RIP BFV

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  70. Me and my family lived in BFV from 73 -76 it was so sad to hear about the base closing, we lived on Washington st. I have so many fond memories of that place such as playing youth football with the falcons, and the travel team the Mannheim chiefs, also had  a chance to see magic Johnson play in the Albert swheitzer tournament , I remember all the pickup football games we used to play in between the buildings in the snow, so many good times and good friends. I will never forget.

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  71. It saddens me to read about BFV closing as I grew up there in the 80’s and went to middle school and high school there as well.  I often go to google earth to remember all  my memories, good ones and sad ones as well.  It is strange to think of a place that holds such a dear place in my heart and the only place it exsists is in my memory.  Only if I could drive there in a day trip! But lucky for me I became close to the principle and her husband and live in Florida where they decided to retire and can share the memories as well!

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  72. I was there the same time frame lived on Jefferson, do you remember a zip line in buffalo park and the smelly wild boars?

    -Paul

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    • I remember the zip line in Buffalo park and the wild boars was there from 86-89

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  73. i was there from 83-84. i was in Taylor Barracks and moved to K-town. I was in the POL Platoon with SGT Adams Sgt Wiggins Sgt Mormans and a host of other friends

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  74. Colleen,

    Amazing! I think I lived on Jefferson Street too from 1973-1978 as the German store was out my front stairwell and across a field, I remember it fondly, the candy paper and sticks, candy strawberries and the incredible brotchen.  My best friend was a guy named Jim Gavin and my sister Debbie was best friends with his sister’s, her name was Jeanine Gavin.  Clifford Jack was another friend, the two Cliff’s.  I was in elementary and middle school; so I would like to pose a childhood question; does anyone remember the playground swing thing that was shaped like a 6ft high bell/oval with a metal poll on top, the pole had two ropes attached with knots in each.  It was in a playground near the DYA/AYA.  All of the kids would wind the rope around the pole and then run and jump out into space hurling around the bell thing for 3-4 minutes ride while the world whirled around you and your friend.  The kids back then, me included could not get enough of that thing, we would play on it all summer long. What a kid’s paradise; building forts in the woods, or walking to the huge German pool past the fields behind Grant Circle.  Also, did anyone ever pick the crazy huge blackberries hanging out of the farmer’s fence halfway to the German pool. Ok, one more memory, the fantastic dances at the DYA during the height of the disco era, I loved how at least in my sheltered world, all of the races got along and I just loved and have always missed that diversity.

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  75. Like many of the previous postings, I was shocked to learn BFV was  shutting down.  I lived there from 1969-1972.  We lived at 64 Grant Circle so the memories of the German store, pools (very cold), AfriCola, frites, cola shola’s, 50 cent movie tickets, the commissary, teen club, exploring the forest outside of BFV, the chapel and taking the Strass downtown are all memories that cannot be taken.  My classmates at MAHS were the best.  Indeed, it was a home and possibly the best place to grow up as a teen.  I was heart broken when we moved back to the states in 1972 as I wanted to graduate at MAHS.  Thanks for all the memory jogging ya’ll.  Jonathan Henson

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  76. I lived in BFV from 1960 to 1963 and what a special place to live. From the age of 6 to 10, it was a great place to live. It is so cool to hear others talk about having their windows painted by the artist during Christmas, and the german stores with the great candy that we so much enjoyed. A quarter bought a lot of candy. The first time I went to a Saturday movie was something I will never forget. The serial that played had every kid in that theater screaming, chearing and booing…it was GREAT! Not one adult which made it even better. Which I could connect up with my old friends Jeffery Amos or Danny and a few other kids that lived in my building. I lived at 39E Jefferson Street and how cool it would be to hear from one of my old friends. Lynnie

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  77. Have photos of Mannheim, Heidelberg etc;etc.

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  78. i was at BFV from 84-87

    i seen recently seen on youtube a video shot drving down columbus street and remember the lively hood of the area as a child and i found it bitter sweet 1st by getting to see the street i lived on but also sad to see it with out life as i remember it.

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  79. hi,  We were Army brats from 1966 – 69 in Kaiserlern and 70 to 72 in Mannheim.  Home in Tennesse twice while Dad was in Nam.  I was born in Tenn in 60, but my brother and sister born in Hawaii in 62,64.   Glad I found this website, now in Indiana     Marsha N

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  80. hi, in Mannhiem in 70-72.  My brother was a cub scout   Maiden name is Gundt,  my mom was known as

    Popcorn Lady for a Scout fundraiser.   loved playing, the only scary thing was once having to walk my sister to elementary school, cause so GIs had supposedly gave out drugs and called it candy.  I will have to ask my sister, but Lincoln is familiar.  we were close to a Deli, and I made money getting small things for moms in our apt.  They were the Moms with small kids and I was 11 or 12.  

    dt,  my mom was “

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  81. My family and I were in Mannheim from 88-93. I went to the elementary school, my sister, Latwaina Brown, went to the middle school & my brother, Dorian Nelson, went to the high school. We lived in what we a called Old Frankinthal. I loved BFV and have so many great memories from there. I have managed to stay intouch with a few people that lived there as well.

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  82. I was at BFV, from 1963 – 1966.
    Started out iin the fourth grade at Manneheim Elementary School
    “What has four wings and can;t fly? Mannheim Elementary!”
    and when we left,
    it was the summer of 1966, having graduated from
    the Sventhe Grade, at Mannheim High School.
    “Who’s Bold? Purple abd Gold.” That was the year we shared the USAEUR High School Football Championship,
    with Heidelburg. We tied them, at home and otherwise had an undefeated season.

    If I remember right, our record was 5-0-1.

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  83. John,

    You and I had to have run in the same circles.  I too was a member of Troop 527 and spent time at Carl Benz Bad, in the cherry trees at the end of Lincoln Strasse, and a lot of time in Kafertal Woods drinking from the Wasser Werk fountain after a long bike ride along trail #7 or building forts in the old bomb craters. Even the Autobahn being shutdown in 73 during the OPEC embargo. Special memories were Halloween in BFV, playing marbles at the end of Linclon Str. across from my place at 25 D Jackson Str., all the psychedelic art in the AYA, and walking to school with a mandatory stop at the Lebensmittel between Jackson Str. and Grant Circle. I was there from 71-77. 

    I honestly can say that growing up in BFV was the best time of my life and hold the fondest memories. I’ve been back twice, in 1999 and 2003, and was amazed at all the changes and overblown security.  Even when the Bader-Meinhof Gang was at it’s peak, we never stopped living our lives. 

    For me, memories of Voglestand, the Kaufhof, all the fests and castles, the school trips, heading down to Chiemsee or Berchtesgaden in the winter, and just being emersed in European culture is something I’ll never forget.

    Go Bisons!

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  84. WOW!! I really enjoyed and appreciate your story as well as each and every comment.  I too lived in BFV, from ’81 to ’85. n I lived on Columbus, G something.. first stairwell closest to the street, the baseball field was our backyard. I loved walking to the candy store! I remember walking to the PX and Commissary, and the awesome pizza place just off base at the end of columbus…best pizza I have ever had to date!! Its been a wonderful stroll down memory lane. Those were the best years of my life. The best memories, the best everything, I loved it. Its amazing, how it could be my favoriye time of my life, when I think about something that I experienced while there, which was the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my life. Even so, I loved Germany. Tanya S. 

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  85. we lived at Bfv ,from 72 till 77, on Washington Street ,i worked at the Px , 

    my Husband ,George was stationed at the Turley Barraks ,i myself was born in MannheimGartenstadt ,noe live in Marryland 

     

     

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  86. John, you must know my brother , John Holmes. Your story sounds just like him! Carol Gustafson (Holmes)

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  87. I too lived at BFV in the early 60s. Anyone know a Sissy, she was my best friend there. I’d love to reconnect. She would have been born around 55 as I was. Thank you – Bonny

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  88. I lived there from 87 t0 89. Its hard to believe BFV is gone. Lot’s of good memories of this place and the time I spent in Germany where my son was born. Germany is and will always be my second home. 

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  89. I lived at 72C Lincoln from 1971-1973 so sad to hear the housing area was closing.

     

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  90. I lived in BFV from Dec 70 to Dec 73.  I was in troop 527.  I remember camping trips with the boy scouts.  I don’t remember the scoutmasters name.  I was 10 when I arrived and 13 when I left.  I remember Kafertal & Vogelstang.  I was sorry to see BFV closed.  I was a Army Brat.  I Lived at 88E Columbus Str, next to the little Foodland store at the opposite end of the street from the PX.

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  91. I lived in BFV from 77-81.  It’s funny to hear people talk about the same things I used to do.  Marbles, the awesome German store that sold sour sticks candy between Jackson street and Grant circle, riding bikes to Kafertal woods, climbing the old “bunkers” in the woods.  I wish more pitures were taken of those times.  I lived on Jackson street.

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  92. My husband and I lived in Ben Franklin Village in 1992. We then moved to Lampertheim (just outside of Coleman Barracks) we lived there 1993-1994. My best friend and her family lived in New Frankenthal. We enjoyed Germany. I miss it. I was sad to hear of so many of the closings.

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  93. I had no idea until last night that BFV had closed. Several times in the past I have tried to find pictures of my home there and happened upon a YouTube video showing the village, my heart melted.  I was born in Heidelberg in 1970 and lived at 64A Lincoln St until June 1981. I have read every comment posted and loved walking down memory lane with each one I read.  My fondest memories are Mrs. Sutton my kindergarten teacher, Mr. Mathis who I had for a 4 & 5 grade combined class. Learning to play the recorder in music and still am able to bust out Mary Had A Little Lamb! My best friend Debbie Liverman, her brother Brian and my first crush, Robert Murray who lived across the way.  Playing marbles and ever searching for the prized bumble bee marble that everyone wanted, roller skating, re-inacting all of the tv shows ans the German store with brochen and the cola gummies! Most of all, I remember the great times spent there and the true sense of family unity I have never experienced anywhere else. 

    I’ve always missed it and more so now knowing our home is no longer.

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  94. I was known As “Bobby” Hollingsworth and was in Mannheim in ’62 also. I remember the snow and the boyscout jamobree at the football field. Trading comics…..knock, knock….”Wanna trade” while sitting in the stairwells. 25 cents for a movie and the youth club. What a wonderful place and time. My brother was Steven. We liived just down the street from the base clinic. 

    Bob Hollingsworth now 62yoa (LOL)

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    • Hi, Bob. I think I knew you at BFV. Went to 6th grade there in 1963 when JFK was assassinated. Also there for 7th and part of 8th grade. Actually moved back to The States 50 years ago today (Dec. 8::). My name then was Christine Fleming. Some of my friends were Charles Wieland, Eric Strahl, Emery Furrer, Emily Carr, Heather Waltz to name a few. My 6th grade teacher was Mrs. Lynde. I remember Mr. Garcia and Mr. Dove from MAHS.

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      • Christine, I think I remember you. My best bud was Patrick Heuvelt (sp?) I was the kid that had the chicken incubator at the science fair and the chickens hatched the night of the fair. I loved it there. My German cousin still lived in Mannheim on Lenau strasse and my wife and i visit every couple of years. I have wandered the abandoned BFV but landmarks have been deserted or dismantled.

        I practice medicine now as a Physician Assistant (34 years) you?
        Bob

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      • Ahhhh……Mr. Dove, wore the strange wrist bands that stirred all kinds of whispers and conjectures (….”his hands were cut off during the war and that’s how they were reattached…..”.). One day someone got brave and just asked. He was a competition pistol shooter and the weights made his hands and arms accustomed to the weight of the pistol.

        Bob

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      • I Lived at BFV in the early sixties. The names of Mrs. Lynde and Emily Carr sound very familiar. I believe Mrs. Lynde might have been a teacher of mine. We might have been classmates. I was in the sixth grade during the August or September 1963 to May or June 1964 school year. I left BFV in 1964. If my memory serves me right Emily Carr was in my class. Some of my friends or people I knew or were classmates were Mack Mendshoe(spelling?)Jeffrey or Geoffrey Smith, Guy Compton, Victor Vega, John Standish, Gloria Stearns (spelling?). Marilyn Goodwin, David Queen. I know most of the above listed people were in my fifth grade class. I don’t recall which ones went on the same sixth grade. I tried looking for a class picture but I was unable to find one. Was Bob Hollingsworth in the sixth grade during the 1963 to 1964 school year? Anyway, we more than likely had some mutual friends/acquaintances. Dennis Vega

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        • I was in the first grade in 1962 and in the fourth grade in 1966, so I am sure we crossed paths, but it seems my friends were mostly classmates or someone who the same age as me. Somewhere I have some class pictures I need to dig out and travel down memory lane.

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        • Yes I was, during that time, Dennis. I lived on Washington Street and was a Boy Scout then. I seem to remember a camporee one year in the football field across the street and how it snowed that night. Does this sound familiar to you? I’m a bit old now (64) and remember Kennedy’s Assassination when I was there. The Youth Activities Center was down the street from the apartment we lived in.

          Bob

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  95. It brought a smile to my face to read through these reflections of times passed. I, also have many happy memories of my 11 years at Mannheim but my memories come from the end years of BFV 1993 to 2004 as the 2nd Grade teacher on the second floor A Wing of the school. BFV is where I ended a teaching career begun in 1952 at Christ the King School in Lexington, KY. My DoDDS career began in Vilseck in 1972 and continued through Karlsruhe (1980 – 82) Erlangen, (1983 – 1993) and finally Mannheim (1993 – 2004). I have loved all the kids I’ve taught along the way but I have to say I love my “Army Brats) the very best, God bless them every one!

    Anne K. Yore-O’Dell 

     Columbus Grove, OH

     

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  96. Mannheim and all the places in Germany I was fortunate enough to visit hold  a special place in my heart.  I enjoyed reading the story and all the comments, they brought back so many memories.  We lived in BFV on Washington Street from 1979 to 1981.  I attended Mannheim American Middle School where I played drums in the jazz band.  I was also in the Boy Scouts, I believe my Scoutmaster was Mr. Coleman.  We went on many camping trips in the region, what great times and memories.  I had many friends including Mike Riley, Andrea Tanner and others whose names have slipped my mind.  I walked to the DYA and picked up the forms to play youth football.  I brought the papers home to my mom who reluctantly signed them.  Thanks for the memories

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  97. Served in the Army from 1963-1966 in Sullivan Barracks….am sad to  see BFV go…remembered the movies , the bowling alley and the NCO club

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  98. So many memories. I patroled BFV as an MP in the mid-80s. It was such a wonderful place to be – BFV and Mannheim. So sad to see it all gone, along with Taylor Barracks where I was stationed. 

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  99. I arrived in Mannheim Germany in September of 1979 after graduating from basic training at Fort Knox and I was already at the old age of 17. I was stationed at Coleman Barricks with the 3/8 Cav mechanized division. I was a truck or any thing with wheels driver and also trained on the new “then” M-60 A3 Tanks with lazer rangefinders.                                                                                                                

    I stayed there until May of 1982 and enjoyed every minute of it. The German people were awsome, I never had any problems with any of them young or antient. The fact that I’m like 80% German myself may have helped, my last name is Eltzroth for christ sakes.

    I will never forget the first time I went to the Oktoberfest. MAN, What a blast and being a 17 and 18,19 year old male was especially a special thing to be around all the friendly Fraulines.  I also went to the other bases thru out Germany but Ben Franklin Village had some cool people stationed and living there. I`m sorry to hear they are both now gone, I want to find someone thats interested to go back and look around at the old stomping grounds but I would get very depressed to get there and all our sidewalks being gone along with all those special memories.

    Baumholder, going to Heidelberg and Frankfurt to patrolling the East West German Border back during the cold war always kept us with some where to go during Army work time or our off play time.We patrolled the Border, called The Fulda Gap 3 times in the time I spent over sea`s. Even that was fun, except the evening that Iran took our Americans there hostage, now that night got rather freightning, shots fired but none reported.We were told the shots fired at us and at them were phatom and what we heard were fire works. So we had that.

    Anyways, I’m done and hope to swap stories with anyone out there that cares to do some swapping. Do any of you recall doing drops of some substance called x-1 twelve into your pop so you could stay up and alert for guard duty or so we could squeeze in every drop of psrtying we could when we were off base? I remember it, and it remembers me.  GO  ARMY!

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  100. My husband Gene was stationed at Sullivan Barrracks 3rd/68th. He was a medic for Dr. Willard at the clinic. I worked in Foodland under Mr. Louis Rociola(who by the way was the most wonderful boss I have ever had). BFV had such a family and small town atmosphere and it so sad it is no more…by the way we were there from 1967/69. All the memories remain in those hollowed buildings and BFV will always be in our hearts…

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  101. Hi, we lived at BFV from 1973-1976. I was in 4-6th grade in the elementry school. The school was on Monroe street. I remember walking or riding bikes to the pool in Kafertal. On the way was a bakery, right outside of the post. I still remember the name of the street, “Wasserwerkstrasse” We used to pick up brotchens, or candy and sodas. I recall always going to the library on post, and reading one of my favorite books as a kid. I do not remember the name of the book but it had a lot of cool stuff to build and instructions on all kinds of games. Always Saturday matinees at the cinema! Playing marbles and baseball was big time. Lots of memories! 😉

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  102. Thanks for the posting.

    In 1982 I was in Ansbach. Moved to BFV, in 1963-1966. I am a Cold War Army Brat Which means my Pa, was an Army soldier.
    And my Ma, was a Fraulein he met as part of the Occupation Army, in 1949.

    In order to finally be able to get married, he had gotten enough rank, to get permission, in the Winter of 1953, however, he was denied, so they hatched me.

    And on August 27, 1954, I was born in a German Hospital, in Mannheim.

    Thanks agin for your work in this original article. Hell kid, we might know each other. I lived on Columbus Street. Building F. Apartment 15.

    Out the kitchen and living room windows a vista view of the little league field. From my bedroom window and Ma & Pa’s.
    a vista view of the circular parking lot.

    In 1964, The Sarge ordered a 1964 Ford Custom Four Door, out of a brochure, at the BFV PX. 3 months later he took a train ride, to Bremerhafen, to accept delivery. While people of Peoria Illinois, were working at Caterpillar. And could buy a car any day pf the week. Or a color TV. 

    We had a case of C-Rats in the Ma&Pa bedroom, for evacuation purposes, should the Russians be coming. The first thing Ma lifted out of that box, was the coffee can and the cigarettes. That thing sat there for 3 years, with the lids ripped open. The cardboard container, dryrotted ripe to spontaneously cumbust.

    And all Dad could worry about was the MP’s wanting to do a cardboard box check. He was fanatical about his 201 file.

    Civilian kids are a joke. Army Brats rule. There is no life like that. In the USA, or overseas.

    Peace

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  103. I just turned 65, newly retired, and was debating travelling back to Europe particularly the Mannheim-Kafertal area. I, too, was an army brat and lived in BFV from 1956-1958. I had some unbelievably wonderful memories of base life – sports, first holy communion,  the school, “Honey”‘ our German maid who lived upstairs, the windows of the apartments Painted with incredible Christmas designs, and too many others to mention. Is it my understanding that the base where we lived is in fact not accessible? If anyone has details about the current condition of the area please let me know. Thanks.

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  104. We were there 1970-1976, my family lived at 38 D Jefferson. So many fabulous memories of Mannheim and BFV. Halloween and the haunted houses in the basements. Movies for 25 and popcorn — a huge bag! — for 10 cents. Walking thru the fields to the pool. The playground on the other side of our court and I could still hear my parents calling. Trips all around Germany to castles, Garmisch, Chemsee, what an education for young children!!! And most poignant memory, the candy store we called “the German store.” My mom became friends with the ladies and they would come visit and bring more candy! I’ve dreamt about them and that store So many times!! BFV has always been such a special place in my heart. 

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  105. I lived in BFV from 1976 to 1979 at 1 Grant Circle.  I was one of 4 boys – the Greene brothers.  Loved going to the German Store for brochen and candy.  Those strawberry things were amazing.  I remember skipping school and going to the Wertkauf and buying beer.  Also going to the crazy pool and jumping off the 10 meter platform.  Clifford Jack’s dad was my teacher and I remember playing poker with Clifford – good times.  

    Hanging out at MAHS and listening to the juke box while playing hearts with my buddies.  I lost my virginity on my last night in Germany, so needless to say the place and the girl hold a very special place in my heart.  

    I will be a little bit sadder, knowing that BFV is shut down and now completely vacant.  It was so alive and full of adventure when we were there.  Truely, there was no place like that and growing up there was a once in a lifetime experience.

    To all those that knew me and my brothers – we wish you all the best and will always remember the crazy good times at MAHS and BFV.

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  106. Is this the Teri Taylor from Fort Hood in the 70’s

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  107. Robert “Bobby” Sheets, I lived there 76 – 78.

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  108. Im a army brat myself. My family lived in BFV from 79 to 83. I was only acouple months old when my dad got stationed back in the U.S. I’ve always wanted to visit the place I was born. Would’ve been nice to see the beauty of BFV before it turns to ghost town or tore down.

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  109. My family lived at BFV from ’59 – ’63 at 50A Washington Street. We loved living in Germany so much Dad extended for another year. Reading the comments above brought back a lot of old memories especially trading comic books. Boy, what a simple life it was. Great, great memories…some were when the A&W stand opened, the trolley car, the girl scout hut, movies for a quarter and eating juju bees. The candy truck that came around and buying sour sticks! Great times. My sister was a candy strip at the orphanage in Kafertal. And Dad and Mom were active with the Mannheim Mixers Square Dance Club. So sorry to see BFV close but the old pictures are still there!!

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    • we were members of the mannheim mixers from 1970-70 oh what fun it was!!

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  110. Hi Mike,

    Was Kevin one of your brothers? I remember playing basketball with him on a team that was coached by our dads: the trips to practice in the VW bus, your dad using an old coffee tin as a spittoon located between the two front seats. You may also remember the Gray boys (both 7 footers, Roger and Stuart “bigfoot”) who lived up the street on Grant Circle.

    Sad to see the old place closing down but, like you, I have many cherished memories:

    – the greasy burgers, Friday disco nights, spinning records in the small sound booth located off the dance floor, ping pong, billiards, and the “free” (rigged) pinball machine at the AYA
    – “Boogie Nights” and The Commodores playing on the jukebox in the MAHS student break area
    – playing basketball at the sports arena during lunch and then having to run along the OEG tracks to make it back to class in time – those Chuck Conners (and the baby powder they treated them with) that they had us check out just to play on the court

    All priceless!!!

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  111. I lived in BFV, twice. once as a child, then as an adult serving in the military, our quarters were the third building from the school on the third floor, could see the school from the outside window. When I was there as a soldier, we lived one row over, two buildings behind, and my supervisor was living in the apartment we had when I was there as a child. Attended MEAS from 70–72 then MHS. My children attended MEAS from 88-91

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  112. I was stationed at HHB 2/67 from April 1977 til July 1979. Have not been back to visit Mannheim/Sullivan Barr. since May 1984.

    Sad to hear BFV has shut down. We might need a revamped forward presence in light of Ukraine, ISIS, Ebola, etc.

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    • DENNIS, I WAS ASSIGNED TO 2/67 ADA AS THE COMMO CHIEF ALONG WITH SGT MEDINA AND 1SG HARTMAN. WE WERE KNOWN AS THE RAT PATROL, SINCE WE HAD TWO RAT RIGS MOUNTED ON BACK OF AN M880 TRUCK. I BUMPED INTO SP4 MAUL, DERICK, WHO WAS N MY SQUAD AND RETIRED AS A CSM. WE LIVED ON 34D JEFFERSON STRASSE.

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  113. I lived at 56C Jefferson when my dad was stationed down in Seckenheim from 1977-1980. I went to MAHS as a freshman in 1980 (Go Bisons!) I remember when they tore down the old bowling alley and built the new one right next to the football field, and when they built the skateboard bowl near the dispensary. What great memories… Sad to hear that it’s been closed…

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  114. Was at Coleman barracks in winter of 59,60. Assigned to the Army rifle competition (BAR man). Was in Bachelor Officers Quarters (BOQ).
    Tank road was immediately behind the end of our barracks building and Autoban was just beyond and above that. We went out of “our little
    street “onto a little larger street to the left and a church wasn’t far away and on the right. Further on and to the right was mess hall,barber shop etc. I have a picture of the sign (BOQ) as we turned into our compound. Was on the left on a stone base. Love to have any pictures of those barracks buildings. Seems they took us thru Lampertheim to practice firing range. Fond memories. D.

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  115. Amazing! I think I lived on Jefferson Street (then Grant Circle) too from 1973-1978 as the German store was out my front stairwell and across a field, I remember it fondly, the candy paper and sticks, candy strawberries and the incredible brotchen. My best friend was a guy named Jim Gavin and my sister Debbie was best friends with his sister named Jeanine. Clifford Jack was another friend, the two Cliff’s. I was in elementary and middle school; so I would like to pose a childhood question; does anyone remember the playground swing thing that was shaped like a 6ft high bell/oval with a metal poll on top, the pole had two ropes attached with knots in each.

    It was in a playground near the AYA. All of the kids would wind the rope around the pole and then run and jump out into space hurling around the bell thing for 3-4 minutes ride while the world whirled around you and your friend. The kids back then, me included could not get enough of that thing, we would play on it all summer long. What a kid’s paradise; building forts in the woods, or walking to the huge German pool past the fields behind Grant Circle. Also, did anyone ever pick the crazy huge blackberries hanging out of the farmer’s fence halfway to the German pool. He didn’t mind as long as we stayed outside the fence. My sisters, Debbie and Sharon and I would fill good sized plastic bags up on the way home from the German pool with the sweetest blackberries that I have ever had.

    As I moved on to middle school Clifford Jack and me, Stuart Grey, Nana Nelson and a bunch of us kids (Mannheim All-stars) went on to win the European (DoD) Basketball championship. Ok, one more memory, the fantastic dances at the AYA during the height of the disco era, I loved how at least in this beautiful sheltered world, all of the races got along and I have always missed the diversity and automatic acceptance of new kids that was palpable.

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  116. Hey Glenn,

    I remember you. We played basketball together and I think that my dad was the assistant coach to your dad for one of the All-star teams that we were both on. What great memories. I just posted a comment and noticed your comment. What a surprise. I have always had fond memories of everyone from back then. I hope that you are doing well.
    Cliff

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  117. Mike,
    I think we lived across the street from you in Grant Circle. I had two sisters, at that time in 6th grade Debbie and 4th grade Sharon. I somehow remember this super cool party that you had with the Eagles (Hotel California) and other great music blasting into the backyard during a block party. I played allot of organized basketball and baseball.

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  118. I have spent most of my childhood and much of my adult life in Germany and the USA- Illinois.
    As a child and young adult until I entered the convent, I was Barbara Garlock. I lived in Benjamin Franklin once in the mid 60’s to early 70’s. I also have wonderful memories of Germany. Having grown up bi-lingual and my German family living in the city, I always felt like I had the best of both worlds. I more less spent all of my grade school years in BFV- other than the time my father was in Viet Nam. After my father came home again, we lived in BJV again.

    I lived on Columbus Street across the street from Foodland. In the summer I remember baseball games and picnics in the big field between the housing. Behind the fense was the highway and the German area of Vogelstang.I remember a little dirt lane with three little holes between the houses where we played marbles. That was a favorite pasttime. On Saturday afternoon we attended the Children’s Matinee and maybe afterwards went to children’s bowling.

    I remember some teachers: Miss Siros, Miss Mershon, (grade school), Mrs. Spencer in 7th and 8th grade for biology and chemistry.
    After the 8th grade, my father retired. I went to a German school for a year, but then we returned to the USA, where I finished high school and went to university and became a German and English teacher. I have taught in Catholic schools in USA and Germany, but always my memories stir back to the years at BFV.

    In the early nineties I walked down Columbus Street with an American friend who also attended BFV and later studied in Germany and married a German man.

    I can say, we had a good life there.

    I also remember having to leave the building during bomb threats, but I also remember never being frightened. Today I understand, that the situation was handled very professionally.

    For those interested, BFV is being partly used for the incoming war refugees from the Middle East.Actually a tradition of freedom is continued in this way.

    Thank-you for opening this blog to be able to express memory lane.

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  119. At the moment 6000 refugees live at BFV. In the other American garnisions it’s the same. Only Coleman barracks are an active garnision. Anybody know the restaurant “Benjamins American Diner”? This restaurant is near bfv, a great place to eat American food.

    Best regards from Mannheim

    Freddy

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  120. Thank you everyone who has posted a comment. I had no idea that this one article would be so widely read and would cause so many other former BFV residents to write about their own time there. It is great to get more details, especially from those who lived there later on. BFV was like a giant quilt and each of us is a small piece that’s been stitched in.

    If anyone would like to write about the last days of BFV when it was being handed back to Germany and what it was like to be there for the ceremonies and the reactions of the Germans I would love to hear from you.

    Again, thank you all for you comments and it is comforting to know that we have a great collective memory that will live on. –Vann

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  121. My husband and I met at BFV in 2003. He was a soldier and I was visiting my sisters family. We married and enjoyed living there from 2003-2006. We had our first 2 children there. We lived in the building just west of the high school. So many great memories. We would love to take our children back to that area someday:)

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  122. I lived on the top floor of a massive building that was connected to two other large high rises,everything and everyone else around this was German including a very steep slide that we had to walk uphill to get to I was a kid who lived at mina karcher platz in frankenthal right outside of mannheim from 1986’1989 it was without a doubt the best years of my childhood

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    • I lived on bfv. But I remember me and my friends use to catch a train to frankenthaul to a friend’s house and we use to get on that same slide. We lived there in the same time 1986 to 1989. I remember walking up that hill to get on that slide as a little kid. I bet now that I am grown it probably don’t seem big now, but then it was like one of the seven wonders of the world.

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    • After an exhaustive search on.google earth I have found where as a little boy I lived 67227 mina karcher platz in frankenthal/ludwighausen for anyone looking for where they lived with there families in west germany I would highly recommend google earth its free and amazing the nostalgic surge it gave me was truly amazing

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    • For anyone looking for where they lived with there families in west germany 1945_1991I would highly recommend google earth its free and amazing the nostalgic surge it gave me was truly amazing

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  123. Very, very nice article. I lived there in 1962-1963 who played Little League baseball and as a fifth grader had my most memorable school year since my favorite teacher, Mrs. Stramn, had one of the biggest impact on my life as a caring and loving individual.

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  124. In 1962, I was a 5th grader and had Mrs. Stramn. She was probably the most memorable teacher I had in my life with her kindness and support.

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  125. I lived in BFV between 1960 to 1963. I lived at 39 E. Jefferson and it was magic living there.

    The Christmas’s, the little league teams (I was a Chicago Cub), Saturday matinee’s for the kids (now that was fun), trading comic books and so much more.

    From the age of 8 to 10, I still remember my friends. There was Jeffrey Amos (I believe I spelled that right) who lived downstairs (I was on the 3rd floor), Gilbert and Tommy and a few others.

    Well, hopefully a few of those guys may remember me and drop me a line sometime if so,

    Lynnie Mullins

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  126. My name is Scotty and I lived on Columbus Ave right across the street from MAHS my brother is name Ray my girlfriend name was Jenny the BFV was my home and still is, loved that place and miss it My best friend was Terry Bankston,we lived there from 1963 to 1966

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  127. Hello, Pamela L Dechon here, I truly miss the base, My brothers Clay, Mark and my sister Hanni, we all lived there I believe 61-64 came back to the States in 64.We came back on a boat the “DARBY” We lived in the Officers area, #5 Grant Circle, and you are all right, being an ARMY kid made us think different then other kids in the States, made us feel different then kids in the States, at the Base we were all the same and, We took fencing lessons on the very top floor of one of the housing buildings, and the Germans were always such nice people, use to go to a little ZOO in the woods behind the housing area in the woods , rode our bikes there to see the animals, wild boars, deer, etc. And if asked I to was sad that the base closed, and will always be. Maybe I will be able to go back and walk the same streets. One can only wish.

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    • Hi Pamela, we came back from Germany in 1966 on the U.S.S. Patch. This was the icing on the cake to our Germany experience! About 9 years ago my wife and I went on a Carnival Cruise. It was nice, but the trip on the U.S.S. Patch will always stand out for me as the best cruise ever.

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    • Pamela,
      Wow! I lived on Grant Circle also. We all arrived in ’61 and lived “on the economy” for a while overlooking the Wasserturm (Friedrichsplatz) then moved to a high-rise on BFV until something opened on Grant Circle.
      I remember the barbed wire and the train tracks outside the school window but it was easy to go off base and buy black bread or Gummibären (long before they came to the US). My best friend was John Stevens and I had a crush on a girl named Beverly and on a couple of my teachers.
      I am looking forward to a cruise with another Brat in December. We were born in the same hospital in Nürnberg. We will cruise up the Mosel to the Rhein and then the Main to Bamberg (where my first home still stands). A side trip to Heidelberg where she lived in the 60s. Maybe we will get to Mannheim.
      Isn’t nostalgia for Germany grand!

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  128. Please visit all of us from Mannheim at Facebook Mannheim Brats. Have a great day.

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  129. Thank you for this article and memories. We were in BFV from 1978 – 1981. I was raised a BRAT, but while in Germany, I was the mother to 3 young female BRATS. I was an umpire for the area military and DYA softball games, did some ACS volunteering and worked briefly for Blyle-Geck, a small women’s clothing store within the PX….but mostly stayed at home with my family.
    My little girls went kicking & screaming all the way to Germany, and then bawled all the way home when we had to leave. Those 3 years were the fullest/busiest most interesting lives we have ever lived. The girls played DYA softball, became little cheerleaders and made friends they still keep up with and so did I. We loved the housing and the tight knit community bond that was formed amongst us “away from home”. We ate the best food and had a favorite restaurant in Viernheim, toured the most beautiful countryside, mesmerized by buildings older than 200 years…something not seen in the U.S.
    I understand BFV will now be used to house Syrian refugees. What great homes they will have. I pray they treat it with respect, because the hearts of us that ran those streets throughout decades…are still there.

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    • Hi Paula, you are so welcome. I have several other articles about Mannheim from my time there in the early 1960s. It is great to hear from others who were at BFV before and after me and to hear they also had a great time there as well. BFV lives on!

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  130. Please find us on Facebook Mannheim brats with pics etc

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  131. go mannhein bisons! !! Lived 61 h columbus as well just a little later in the 80’s wish i was there again. Left in 1985

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  132. We moved to BFV from Stuttgart in 1966 – left there in 1968. My older brother was a bag boy at the Commissary – we were in the BSA Troupe #2. I remember the German Fire Brigade came down the street and my Mother almost killed herself tripping over the little chain fence in front of our building trying to get a picture… also the home made ice cream sandwiches the German man use to sell. And honey in a seashell. And of course the AYA on Saturday night. 7th Grade with Lynn Pollard and Bobbie Trammel – 2 of the cutest girls I have ever known.

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