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The Secret Apartment: Vet Stadium, a surreal memoir

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The Secret Apartment is an unintended memoir. It began as a way to amuse friends as a diversion in the early days of stress, isolation, and fear in the spring of 2020 and the Pandemic caused by the deadly Covid-19 Virus. We had no way of knowing how bad things were going to be or how long isolation and social distancing might last. It was a frightening time and my only int The Secret Apartment is an unintended memoir. It began as a way to amuse friends as a diversion in the early days of stress, isolation, and fear in the spring of 2020 and the Pandemic caused by the deadly Covid-19 Virus. We had no way of knowing how bad things were going to be or how long isolation and social distancing might last. It was a frightening time and my only intention was to provide friends with a momentary diversion and some entertainment in hard times. Favorable encouragement pushed me into half-forgotten memories and these stories came tumbling out. My "diversion" came to life as something I have to share with others. I began working on The Secret Apartment as a memoir to be presented as a collection of short stories Though fanciful, these are true stories based on actual events. This is not the product of my imagination. I didn't have to make anything up. I didn't have to and everything presented is both true and correct.I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I enjoyed living them.


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The Secret Apartment is an unintended memoir. It began as a way to amuse friends as a diversion in the early days of stress, isolation, and fear in the spring of 2020 and the Pandemic caused by the deadly Covid-19 Virus. We had no way of knowing how bad things were going to be or how long isolation and social distancing might last. It was a frightening time and my only int The Secret Apartment is an unintended memoir. It began as a way to amuse friends as a diversion in the early days of stress, isolation, and fear in the spring of 2020 and the Pandemic caused by the deadly Covid-19 Virus. We had no way of knowing how bad things were going to be or how long isolation and social distancing might last. It was a frightening time and my only intention was to provide friends with a momentary diversion and some entertainment in hard times. Favorable encouragement pushed me into half-forgotten memories and these stories came tumbling out. My "diversion" came to life as something I have to share with others. I began working on The Secret Apartment as a memoir to be presented as a collection of short stories Though fanciful, these are true stories based on actual events. This is not the product of my imagination. I didn't have to make anything up. I didn't have to and everything presented is both true and correct.I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I enjoyed living them.

30 review for The Secret Apartment: Vet Stadium, a surreal memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elyse

    Fun book for Philadelphia sports fans. Written by a Vietnam veteran suffering from a classic case of PTSD. I can only imagine someone with a mental disorder thinking it a good idea to live secretly in a sports stadium (the now demolished Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia). While living there the author, Tom Garvey, was manager of car parking so he had a good cover. He ended up with many stories to tell. Not all stories were related to his time living there. For instance he once got 10 tickets for Fun book for Philadelphia sports fans. Written by a Vietnam veteran suffering from a classic case of PTSD. I can only imagine someone with a mental disorder thinking it a good idea to live secretly in a sports stadium (the now demolished Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia). While living there the author, Tom Garvey, was manager of car parking so he had a good cover. He ended up with many stories to tell. Not all stories were related to his time living there. For instance he once got 10 tickets for a Superbowl held in Los Angeles and decided that this would be a good excuse for a road trip with friends. On the way they picked up an Australian science teacher in a snowstorm while visiting the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The book is self-published and a little rough around the edges. The author graduated magna cum laude from Widener University in Pennsylvania after returning from Vietnam and isn't any dummy. He just hit a rough patch in life for a while. He chose to save his Vietnam stories for a different book, Many Beaucoup Magics.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brannock

    I’ve decided to believe that these stories are real—that Tom Garvey really lived in a forgotten concession stand for years in Veterans Stadium, that he really used to roller skate around the 600 level in the middle of the night, with only moonlight as a guide, and that he really crashed into Dick Vermeil in an elevator while on said roller skates. And that’s just one chapter. Philadelphia area sports fans will get a kick out of the escapades of the Stadium Cat in the 70s and early 80s. P.S. The I’ve decided to believe that these stories are real—that Tom Garvey really lived in a forgotten concession stand for years in Veterans Stadium, that he really used to roller skate around the 600 level in the middle of the night, with only moonlight as a guide, and that he really crashed into Dick Vermeil in an elevator while on said roller skates. And that’s just one chapter. Philadelphia area sports fans will get a kick out of the escapades of the Stadium Cat in the 70s and early 80s. P.S. The Mike Schmidt story doesn’t surprise me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Meet Tom Garvey, a Vietnam vet who finds himself living in a makeshift apartment in Philadelphia's sport venue, Veteran's Stadium. Having grown up in Philadelphia attending Phillies games at The Vet I was all in. Unfortunately, how he comes to set up this apartment isn't that shocking and the book has little to do with the apartment. For the most part it is a collection of name dropping, self indulgent stories that you'd hear hanging out in a local dive bar. (if you grew up knowing the big names Meet Tom Garvey, a Vietnam vet who finds himself living in a makeshift apartment in Philadelphia's sport venue, Veteran's Stadium. Having grown up in Philadelphia attending Phillies games at The Vet I was all in. Unfortunately, how he comes to set up this apartment isn't that shocking and the book has little to do with the apartment. For the most part it is a collection of name dropping, self indulgent stories that you'd hear hanging out in a local dive bar. (if you grew up knowing the big names of Philadelphia sports of the 70's this might be for you) It's a shame, book started off strong and with a good editor might have stayed on topic and been better organized.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Brown

    As someone who spent a few nights sleeping in the oldest hockey arena still in use-Matthews Arena I enjoyed this book. It was a quick and easy read. Writing wasn’t great but his stories were fun.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andy Littleton

    This is a book by one of those dudes with all kinds of stories, whose had a very interesting life, plus writes a little poetry. He acknowledges that it’s a compilation of quarantine stories originally written for friends, and reading at such, I enjoyed it! It’s a bit repetitive, but few people have had a set of experience quite like the author. Forgive him the imperfections in the book if you can, and sit back and imagine his wild ride of a life during his Vet Stadium days, you’ll enjoy the time This is a book by one of those dudes with all kinds of stories, whose had a very interesting life, plus writes a little poetry. He acknowledges that it’s a compilation of quarantine stories originally written for friends, and reading at such, I enjoyed it! It’s a bit repetitive, but few people have had a set of experience quite like the author. Forgive him the imperfections in the book if you can, and sit back and imagine his wild ride of a life during his Vet Stadium days, you’ll enjoy the time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    This book needed an editor, which made reading it distracting. I rolled my eyes at some of the stories, too. But it did bring back memories of games at the Vet, so there's that. This book needed an editor, which made reading it distracting. I rolled my eyes at some of the stories, too. But it did bring back memories of games at the Vet, so there's that.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kendra Rothermel

    “If I overheard anyone telling this story in a bar, or at a party, I wouldn’t believe it either.” There was a secret apartment beneath the slope of the 300 level seats in left field in beloved Vet Stadium. Tom Garvey, a Vietnam Veteran, shares his tales from his time occupying a residence that most Philly sports fans would die for. He regales his audience with personal stories of his job as head of parking (which he sort of happens into), his relationships with players, amazing history, and some “If I overheard anyone telling this story in a bar, or at a party, I wouldn’t believe it either.” There was a secret apartment beneath the slope of the 300 level seats in left field in beloved Vet Stadium. Tom Garvey, a Vietnam Veteran, shares his tales from his time occupying a residence that most Philly sports fans would die for. He regales his audience with personal stories of his job as head of parking (which he sort of happens into), his relationships with players, amazing history, and some downright humorous accounts of pranks and antics involving beloved landmarks of the Philly sports complex from 1979 to 1981. For those of you who don’t know, I grew up 45 minutes from Philly. We spend our Sunday’s and sometimes Monday and Thursday nights cheering on our Eagles. Opening Day was a celebrated holiday in our house. Calendars were marked off to count down the days to Spring Training. My dad and brother and now husband when they are lucky enough to have an extra ticket, spend every home game in the freezing cold or bitter heat cheering on their Eagles until they’re hoarse. (My brother is the one who told me I needed to read and review this book in the first place.) This book had so many cool stories of sports history that I loved. It made me appreciate the fandom and yearn for the good ol days. It’s true what they say- being a Philly fan is rough. You’ll have the highest of highs and lowest of lows, they’ll break your heart. But I wouldn’t want to root for any other teams on this planet.

  8. 4 out of 5

    John Bullard

    Reading this book is like sitting down for a cup of coffee with Tom Garvey. surprisingly moving. Wonderful story of how finding a home in an unlikely place, Brotherhood, and the love of sports help a highly decorated airborne ranger Spec Ops leader and talented writer recover from the Hell that was the Vietnam war. Thank you, Mr Garvey for your service. Thank you for this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Really 3.5 stars for me. It was mostly an enjoyable story but I found the endless tales about drinking a bit boring after a while (and I like my glass of wine or two, don't get me wrong) but they were told in a way that were sort of "inside" jokes that I didn't feel fully let in on. But the whole apartment seems like it was a very cool thing and wish that at some point someone had taken a photo of it! Really 3.5 stars for me. It was mostly an enjoyable story but I found the endless tales about drinking a bit boring after a while (and I like my glass of wine or two, don't get me wrong) but they were told in a way that were sort of "inside" jokes that I didn't feel fully let in on. But the whole apartment seems like it was a very cool thing and wish that at some point someone had taken a photo of it!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shane O'Connor

    This is a funny lil' memoir that any Philly sports fan will love. I only went to the Vet a handful of times when I was a kid but it was quite the stadium. Even more than the sports stories, I loved hearing about different bars and spots around Philly that may not be there anymore. I love learning about the history of the city. This is a funny lil' memoir that any Philly sports fan will love. I only went to the Vet a handful of times when I was a kid but it was quite the stadium. Even more than the sports stories, I loved hearing about different bars and spots around Philly that may not be there anymore. I love learning about the history of the city.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Roberta Young

    If you know a good story teller, you will like this book. If you know Philadelphia, you will like this book. If you are a sport fan, you will like this book. I have known several very good story tellers. I have lived in Philadelphia for many years. I am not a sports fan but I still like this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    paula cronin

    A great job down memory lane. Read the Secret Apartment in one afternoon, but will spend much more time enjoying the memories of experiences and friendships made. Thanks, Tom. Joe from 2-73

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sandee

    The Not So Secret Apartment Tom Garvey takes the reader on a vivid trip back in time. His memories of working and living at the Vet are so engaging that the book’s ending leaves the reader wanting more. Mr. Garvey is a gifted writer.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Richard L. Carbo

    I really liked this book. It was a quick read and, since I am a lifelong Philly sports fan, the anecdotes about the players were great. I went to many games at the Vet and I could relate to much of what Tom talked about. And, I learned quite a lot about some of the players I have ling admired.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    An article in the local Philly paper, a click on Amazon and a quick read a day later. For a while I thought I was getting “ Sidd Finched “ ( see Sports Illustrated April fools story). It seemed the writer was messing with us. By the end I am convinced that it was a real place. I decided though, that I didn’t care before the stories were fun, some poignant and when I drive by an empty stadium. Especially at night I wonder “who is in there”? Someone working in the stadium studio? An athlete using An article in the local Philly paper, a click on Amazon and a quick read a day later. For a while I thought I was getting “ Sidd Finched “ ( see Sports Illustrated April fools story). It seemed the writer was messing with us. By the end I am convinced that it was a real place. I decided though, that I didn’t care before the stories were fun, some poignant and when I drive by an empty stadium. Especially at night I wonder “who is in there”? Someone working in the stadium studio? An athlete using the gym? A poker game I. The locker room? A lonely security guard walking in the dugout? This book brings those thoughts to life. I was surprised the story took us across the country, but I was up for ones mans memories of his younger days. I would have given it three or four stars, but as a Philly fan who also teared up at the Vets implosion, the nostalgia is rich, fun and meaningful. Details like JC Dobbs, cheesesteaks, Bookbinders, Ovations, the Stadium Club, MAC cards, Dr J - the list goes on and on. Great stuff. I can still smell the Vet. My only question mark was referring to Schmidtty as number 32. Wasn’t that Carlton? MS was 20 I think. There are people who will rip this book I suppose, but I can think of 10 people I want to lend it to. Thanks to Tom Garvey for a great weekend Philly fan ride.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    This was. Tough book for me. I think right of the bat, I’m not a Philadelphia sports fan, just live in Philadelphia, so the stories, while interesting, don’t mean a lot to me. Secondly, the writing was poor. You could tell that the author wrote everything almost from a journal. Which is cool, but more of something you talk about while drinking at a bar, not read. Finally, some of the stories didn’t do anything to me. They weren’t entertaining or they didn’t impact the overarching theme of the bo This was. Tough book for me. I think right of the bat, I’m not a Philadelphia sports fan, just live in Philadelphia, so the stories, while interesting, don’t mean a lot to me. Secondly, the writing was poor. You could tell that the author wrote everything almost from a journal. Which is cool, but more of something you talk about while drinking at a bar, not read. Finally, some of the stories didn’t do anything to me. They weren’t entertaining or they didn’t impact the overarching theme of the book. They were like thrown in at the end to extend things. If you are a Philly sports nut, you would love it. If this book was about the Kingdom (Seattle), I bet I would give it 5 stars.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    This book was enjoyable to read, but primarily because it reminded me of listening to my uncle talk for hours at a time. The author / main character / narrator, portrays a talented and capable man who consistently makes poor decisions, yet somehow manages to scrape through and continue going. It would have been interesting to have a few additional chapters or an epilogue to describe what happened once he managed to get his life back into some sense of order.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kristopher Powell

    A fun read for sure, from undoubtedly an interesting character, especially if you remember going to Veterans Stadium. Not always consistent writing, but in a way that makes me believe the stories are true. It seems pretty clear that people have been telling Garvey he ought to write a book of his stories, and I'm glad he did it. The stories also make me long for what was undoubtedly a more freewheeling time. I'll be buying copies for friends this Christmas. A fun read for sure, from undoubtedly an interesting character, especially if you remember going to Veterans Stadium. Not always consistent writing, but in a way that makes me believe the stories are true. It seems pretty clear that people have been telling Garvey he ought to write a book of his stories, and I'm glad he did it. The stories also make me long for what was undoubtedly a more freewheeling time. I'll be buying copies for friends this Christmas.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Crompton

    Cool idea - stories about the illicit apartment the author set up for a couple of years in Veterans Stadium in Philly, along with stories about the folks (famous and not) that he met along the way in his years of working at the Vet. It makes for a fairly entertaining book, but the natural habitat for these stories is a dark barroom. I would love to hear them in that setting.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Furiousball

    I had a tough time with giving a favorable review after reading the chapter involving Mike Schmidt after the author referred to him as number 32. This book really could have used a few edits, but regardless, it's such a cool story. I had a tough time with giving a favorable review after reading the chapter involving Mike Schmidt after the author referred to him as number 32. This book really could have used a few edits, but regardless, it's such a cool story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I liked it, but I didn't love it. The author did a good job, and the stories were fun, but it didn't rise to the level of unforgettable. I was wondering why the apartment was eventually abandoned, for instance. But still, enjoyable read. I liked it, but I didn't love it. The author did a good job, and the stories were fun, but it didn't rise to the level of unforgettable. I was wondering why the apartment was eventually abandoned, for instance. But still, enjoyable read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    charles

    From 90 miles to the North Reminds me of many great stories about Philly told to a New Yorker by my best pal from West Philly, Gabe. Crown Royal, shoebies and many more. Love Philly and its sports history.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alex Yurcaba

    There’s a certain unvarnished warmth here that I really loved. This story reminded me so much of talking to my dad about his life. Completely earnest and surprisingly wholesome, if somewhat unvarnised.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Reilly Van

    Unbelievable story! Something that could never happen now in this age of security. An absolute dream for any Philadelphia sports fan…his stories outside the Vet were incredible on their own, just a great storyteller.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Louise Latorres

    Good stories! Loved the book & stories of the Vet! What a great way to experience what went on at the Vet!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kayo

    Fun story.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tom Dougherty

    For what it is, I would recommend. Fun collection of stories and felt like I was hearing stories at a family reunion or at a bar about a wild time in their life.

  28. 4 out of 5

    chuck r

    Unpolished...yes but I am a Delco boy and can easily relate to the timing of this adventure..... Enjoyed the read. Welcome Home Tom...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Patterson

    Jealous Yes, I am jealous!! I would have loved to live there!! Easy, fast read. He takes you to the stadium, inside & out!! ❤❤

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Fitzpatrick

    Started off strong with some pretty interesting stories of Philly sports legends, but the typos and poor grammar were so distracting.

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