We sit merrily, peering from the guard tower overlooking this moon- lit stalag. Time stands still. There is no place I’d rather be. This has been a target for myself and a few choice friends for a long time.
Now we can see it, touch it, and smell it. Oh, and feel it… I got a splinter in my hand from the ladder leading up to the tower. It is like a souvenir.
We become overwhelmingly confidant that dogs are not running free tonight. Certainly they would have heard us. The safer we feel or become, the louder we get. It is like being intoxicated without alcohol.
My five accomplices and I hastily open Stalag 13’s main gate, the same gate you see in the opening credits. A guard tower looks down on each side of this entry. We take deep breaths…and throw caution to the wind.
Our 6 dark images quickly run strait to Colonel Klinks’ office, up his front porch and through his front door. We pause as we evalulate our situation…
We realize this is not a safe stop for us. The back side of this set is exposed, and we can see Camp Henderson off in the distance inside Klink’s office. Gomer Pyle’s set is barely hidden by a row of eucalyptus trees, between the two camps.
Stalag 13 is a vintage WW2 camp while Pyle’s is contemporary. We knew this years prior, since we have been using Baldwin Hills as a balcony…Today, we are entering the toy chest we have been looking down on.
There is a kennel for the picture dogs that you see in the opening credits. By watching the show, we realize that under one of these 6 dog houses, exists a tunnel. We all try lifting and looking underneath them.
Bingo! We found the tunnel. Our hearts fluttered. It’s so cool. Three of us fit inside. It gives an appearance that its a tunnel, but it is really just a contrived hole in the ground. An illusion…welcome to the world off backlots!
Next we go inside the POW’s barracks. They are adjacent to the kennel. It’s pitch dark inside and it seems like a storage area for cots that the POW’S sleep on. In another barrack, we find explosive boxes stacked up. On a table I find call sheets, John Banner’s name, Bob Crane’s son’s name, “Klemperer,” and director Bruce Bilson, as well as many others…all the cast and crew is on this Hogan’s Heroes call sheet.
The above call sheet was inside a barrack, The Dick Van Dyke Show
We try to identify in relation to the camp layout, the famous Hogan’s Heroes tree stump. It would be outside the fence, of course. It’s how the show’s Heroes sneak in and out of the Stalag 13. This is must see TV.
We need to find that tree stump as we stagger around the camp’s perimeter, feeling very comfortable now that we are the only people here on this Sunday night.
Finally, adjacent to a large hillside overlooking the camp, we find a couple of tree stumps. Sure enough the lid opens on one of them, and a ladder takes you down inside this barely moonlit hole. We all had to take turns, as once again, this tunnel fits 4 people, max.
A smashing success. We have included another iconic Hollywood set onto my Phantom resume…don’t touch that dial, more to come!
Written and lived by Donnie Norden