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Man Says He Lived in Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium for Years

todayMarch 20, 2021 6

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There was AstroTurf carpet, a bed, some seating, a coffee table and lamps. Devices included a toaster oven, coffee maker, space heaters and a stereo.

“You walked in, it was very dark and there was equipment and boxes and crap sitting around,” said Mr. McNally, a former general manager of the Electric Factory, a Philadelphia concert venue. “He had constructed, in the back, a couple walls, a refrigerator, a couch, some chairs, a hot plate. It’s not like it was a luxury apartment.”

Mr. Garvey called it “cozy,” with “everything a guy would want.” Bathrooms were across the hall, employee showers downstairs.

Terry Nilon, Mr. Garvey’s cousin and another former stadium employee, said he saw the apartment but didn’t think much of it at the time. “I thought it was funny,” he said.

In his book, Mr. Garvey describes “an off-the-wall South Philly version of ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’” including encounters with the Eagles coach Dick Vermeil, the Sixers legend Julius Erving and the Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw. He also recounts elements of daily life, including the friendships that helped him adjust after the military, and the time alone, roller skating around the empty stadium at night with the city’s skyline, rivers, bridges and flights as a backdrop.

“It was euphoric,” he said in the interview. “It was like a form of meditation for me. It just — it helped me a lot.”

He hid in plain sight: Everyone knew him, he said, and his job gave him a reason to be around at any hour, every day of the week.

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