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tv   Charlie Schroeder Man of War  CSPAN  November 28, 2015 4:00pm-5:01pm EST

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schroeder. his bookstore in pasadena posted the 50 minute event in 2012. you very much. thank you to my favorite bookstore in the world. my wife and i live in burbank. in pasadena. you can usually find me in the history section camped out here. i am obsessed with this bookstore and i support it. thed to look up gimlet in dictionary. i thought it was a drink. it is sharp. i had to look at the derivation of it. it was a nice review.
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you should tell that to the person who wrote a blog post about me and call me an idiot. that is a different story. it is a pleasure to speak in front of a crowd of readers. i would like to tell you about how this book started, where i got the idea to do this. the origin of the book was when i was in college. i spent my junior year abroad. nextlly wanted to be the kenneth braugnan. heels -- i fell head over heels in love with shakespeare. i thought i can do this. alive when i was speaking his language then when i did anything else in my life. what a great way to make a living, to be a shakespearean act to her.
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-- actor. i auditioned for a local castssance faire and i was as romeo and romeo and juliet. i went to the renaissance fair all excited and i found out that romeo and juliet had been shrunk to half an hour. the truncated version, the greatest hits. it wasn't quite the national theater which i had experienced in london. at the renaissance fair, you inhabit a character and talk to people and act like you are this elizabethan. i didn't know i was getting into any of this but i was. i was always amazed, always intrigued by seeing people show elizabethans.a
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knights in shining armor, ladies and dresses. why are they doing that? i am getting paid $150 a week to dress up and they are doing it voluntarily. that always struck me as something curious. what is it about dressing up as a historical figure, historical character that appeals to people ? that stayed with me. specifically our people attracted to a certain moment in time. they want dressing up as romans, french and indian war he and at whose -- war reenactors. what attracts us? why are some people attracted to a moment in time? of the few people who could say i grew up in a log cabin which is true. it was built in 1740. i grew up next to amish people.
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i'm one of the people who can say that. i never really thought anything of this. this was my normal life. the people down the street have no electricity. this was the 1970's. i didn't think anything of it. i wanted to get away from that life. i wanted to go to the big city and be an actor. i wanted to see tall buildings and have an exciting life. i did that. i went to new york and moved to los angeles. one of the things about moving to los angeles from the east coast when you are 30 years old is that all of a sudden you feel very divorced from this east coast traditional upbringing. that happened to me. i was living in a part of the the that felt very new, to
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.950's, and i felt attached that thing i've took for granted growing up in the log cabin, living next to amish people, all of a sudden i needed that in my life. andday i was in the shower, my wife burst into the bathroom. , if you out of nowhere could go back to college now and major in any subject what would it be? it is a good question actually. i burst out history. quite putit, i didn't all the pieces together. wasdn't understand what it that i felt was missing in my life. that this would somehow make me a better person, a better citizen. not that long afterwards we went down to old for macarthur. it is on the peninsula, and old
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fort. in early july, just last weekend they hold what is called a timeline of events. up,s where reenactors show they set up their tents, they dress up in their uniforms and they talk about their particular moment in time. my wife and i went to this. i didn't know the reenactment hobby was so broad. i didn't realize people dressed up as celts, or that there were out there, people dressed up as vikings, all these other time periods. when i was there, i noticed there was one particular group that was not there. when i went home, i started googling.
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i was on my laptop. the predictive search yielded three researchers. people think this. after more searching, i discovered this website. drive on stalingrad.com. this was the website for an upcoming reenactment. it was a fascinating website. they had the rules, photos. i could not tell if they were real or stage. isent them an e-mail and said live in los angeles, i'm a writer. can i play along? they said sure. that is the first chapter. sleepless in stalingrad.
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because i was sleepless the entire time. i don't know if any of you have been to the plains of colorado but there is nothing there. i saw a tree and a bird. it is very flat. and it is very cold. i was there in october. this was one of the most horrific battles of all time. died.d 2 million people hitler kept trying to advance. they hated each other's guts. people were freezing to death. it was horrible. these guys thought a fun weekend. march.a forced i was just -- i was dressed as a german. swastika on my
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breast pocket. interesting. i had never been through basic training. i had never served in our military. i probably weighed 20 pounds more than i do now. i was not in weight -- i was not in shape to do this. i made about six miles. we were going to stop and spend the night in this shuttered one-room schoolhouse. the temperature was dropping fast. bagsdn't have sleeping because we were going to be authentic. [laughter] i had not slept. and the frigid temperatures, i didn't sleep a wink. at this point in the story i have not slept in 36 hours. the sun has set.
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i am lying in the middle of this one-room schoolhouse next to a pile of rat droppings. , i decided i wife would never complain about another thing as long as i lived. i've held to that since then. nothing could be worse. what happens is i am lying there sudden, a rancher comes home and he has no idea this is happening on this property. he sees a bunch of nazis saying out in front of the schoolhouse. he has questions. [laughter] a voice in the darkness richly back to the present. i wondered if i had fallen asleep, if i was being summoned .or guard duty
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let's go guys, now. what is going on? >> there is a guy outside who claims he has a lease on the schoolhouse and he is pissed. soldiers gathered their belongings and headed outside into the frigid starlit night. high beams illuminated the dirt strip from here to eternity. about feelingd in the craters. i sniffed around for information but it was hard to gather. they had gotten approval from a local land owner to hold the event but not all the neighbors knew about it.
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when a cattle rancher drove by and saw 90 not see setting up night, he freaked. now the event's organizers were trying to calm him down so things would get really out of hand. i dumped all my supplies next to a ditch that some guys were filling in and asked what was up. them, a geoeye guy shrugged his shoulders. this happens with his hobby, he said, tossing another shovel of the dirt back into the hole. his friend was livid. people usually think this is cool but this guy, why does he have to ruin everything? overtime the truth came out by .h he was a vietnam vet and he did not think not see the enactment
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was cool. educateon't you go people about not see as him instead he asked from the safety of his truck. there was tense as i put the odds that he was carrying a gun and roughly percent -- roughly 100% and the chance of his ammunition was blank at approximately zero. at one point while i was eavesdropping on the conversation one of the not sees went nose to nose with him and got in his grill. that didn't help. trucks arrivedp and parked 50 feet away at nearby crossroads. with headlights shining and motors idling it was a passive aggressive posture that bellowed that mess with colorado. youth whoaired hitler couldn't have been more than 20 muttered, leave it to some dumb
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redneck to ruin it for everybody. the rumor mill churns. it didn't take long for morale to disintegrate. at 1.i overheard a group of guys bemoaning the long walks and little battle. too much walking, not enough shooting. when i heard one of them utter the word motel, i pounced on him. please take me with you. asked?uat are you and he i couldn't remember its name. california. aat's not a squad name shadowy figure replied. please, i begged, i can't feel my toes anymore. another hour outside i feared i would be the very last trimming casualty on the eastern front. one of their guys who equate hitched a ride back to base
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camp. base camp toing to pick up the rest of the deserters. minas at the crossroads in 15 minutes. great, yes. thank you so much. my cheeks were so cold i could barely form the words. here come the cops, a guy said. i turned to see a squad car pull up. the rancher dialed 911. the car stopped in front of the schoolhouse, grill to grow with the pickup. out, goldstar pended his chest. he attended chewing the fat with one of the nazis but i couldn't hear what they were saying. .hey chatted for a while it looked like things were going to get resolved. it looks like the reenactment would continue. then in the distance we all heard a low rumble.
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it sounded like one of those apocalyptic rattle traps for mad max. gettingally loud, and louder. the men immediately recognize what it was. there looks of horror talent -- telegraph their disbelief. it was the russians. they were launching a surprise attack. nobody had told them there was a time out on the field. lightning to russian ba 60 floors charged over a small hill pedal to the metal. before anyone had a chance to flag them down they were opening fire. verse of flames spread out of narrow slits like a four-wheel dragon. the concussion was deafening. great.l of dust so
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the drivers spend his rounds and tore off into the dark as of the high desert. a crowd of panicked germans ran towards the second vehicle waving their arms whistling and yelling stop, stop firing, cut it out. vehicle number two cap speeding ahead spitting flames until it ground to a halt when it almost ran over a desperate reenactor. the sky lit up with flashing lights. it was the cop. he turned his patrol lights on and his eyes were bugging out of his head. out of med the shit he said, his hand reaching inside the squad car region for god knows what. and i don't carry blanks. >> the cup turned back to the
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nazi he had been talking to. 4s in world war i? >> the nazi looked at him in disbelief and replied, world war ii. i didn't stick around long enough to see how things ended. the truck with texas tags arrived at the designated corner and i hopped in it with other vets who couldn't take how hard-core stalingrad really was. i hunched over to avoid the wind blowing over the roof. i prayed none of the remaining nazis would shoot us in the back. no bullets ever came. the mood was grim. a heavyset guy who was sitting with his back against the cap muttered i was looking for five months, made sure everything was authentic, for this? nobody bothered to respond.
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[applause] charlie: feel free to applaud. andr that i went to florida i reenacted the civil war because it was warmer. i wish i had better motivation than that. i thought this would be a good time. i do plan to read more and i have limited time. does anybody have any questions? , about historical reenactment? about why am crazy? what did i learn about myself? is it on? >> what did you learn about
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yourself? charlie: that is a great question. i will say this. one of the things i learned by the end of it is civic pride, frankly. by doing this i realized a couple of things. i'm not a soldier. at all. i am 40 years old. i have been working on this op-ed recently about war and soldiers, and the draft. i recognize that i am none of those things. -- i woulda terrible be a liability to troops in battle. seriously. [laughter] i met a vietnam that. i asked have you changed at all since the war? he said i wish we didn't have a draft. those guys were useless. it was interesting.
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we always hear it is some thing that the civilians not want by the military doesn't want it. i thought that was interesting. i thought how i would actually be. live't know if i could frankly by doing this. by being a soldier. i don't have the fortitude for it. other pointss your when i read the second part. what i learned about history, this pride and where i live. it is so important when you are studying history to care very deeply about the place where you live. we are all citizens of los angeles. the more we know about the place we live the more we respected.
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those are some things i learned. the book is not just about military reenactment. hobby fromover the 360 degrees. i thought it was important to include those. hobbyists,ostly on people who are not getting paid, people who are not hired. there is a difference between those people who you see at colonial williamsburg being paid to do that. i wanted to focus on people investing their money and time into this hobby. any other questions? >> what made you think about making these reenactments into a book?
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>> as opposed to something else? i have no talent for those things. i find it hard to collaborate with people, those are collaborative mediums. the idea of making a film or a documentary, or a television show is so daunting to me. this was daunting enough. it was just me in the paper. and skills that you need to pull off something like that is beyond my capability. i have always liked being an actor. he wasn't nearly the responsibility that the producers and directors brought to it. in terms of a narrative script it would have to be real for me. it has to be a portrait of real people doing it.
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i thought the book was the best medium for that. >> what did you find was the most common motivation for the actual reenactors? yours was curiosity. what was theirs? charlie: a great question and hard to answer. the one thing that everybody said that they all have in common despite their political differences, and there are very right wing people doing this and very left wing people doing this . they all believe in the second amendment. [laughter] that was interesting. i like hearing the arguments on the left and right. stoodere all pretty much
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by that. in terms of motivation, so many different reasons why. heritage. i am better with a guy named rick fox was the basis of a hairband and he dresses up as a czar fromr -- weaned poland. it is a way of honoring poland. really astoundingly elamboyantly dressed incredibl calgary men. the people getting away from modern life. that is another big reason. and a fascination with the military. different times attract different people. a strong military, they are inclined that way and often
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veterans or reservists or soldiers. their fascination with rome, the and other -- and the civil war is the most popular. 50,000 people reenactment civil war. people in the south do it for different reasons than people in the north, or even out here in the west. answer.hard >> was a particular group more fanatical than the rest or was there one more committed? in the unitedve states is you have a couple different ways in which things are reenacted.
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events.events, public the public offense are ones that have happened on american soil. those reenactments will happen at the battle sites themselves. , did the french and indian war a battle site in upstate new york. enrona roman reenactment ron did not happen here. rome did not happen here. those foreign reenactments will happen on private property. there is no site to hold that. those reenactments tend to be the more fanatical and that they are -- there is no audience. participant and the audience member. the way in which it is
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structured is very much for you to get an experience of being there. a period rush. an i was there moment. i was hit by an arrow. or whatever. i felt like i was in 1066. that happened in those situations. there were not people out there dressed up like us reminding me of where i was. it doesn't take long, i have to say. experiment where they had guards and prisoners, it happened students. intellectual bright young affluent kids, privileged kids get to go to stanford, and
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within three days the guards were beating the prisoners. that would never happen. you put them in that situation and it happens. immersed, the are easier it is to forget where you are. that definitely happened to me on a number of occasions. those were the ones where i would use the word fanatical. we are going to eat only food that they ate. the best one to reenactors from rome. ead, wine. >> what was the easiest aspect of writing the book? charlie: i found nothing easy. nobody teaches you how to write book.,000 word
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the longest thing i've ever written was 2000 words. it is funny. i'm hoping it is going to be ex started in a magazine. i get to rewrite my whole book now because you go back and look terrible say that is who wrote that. one of the things, it was a learning process. sculpting.ike you have your found material. henry moore will shape it one way, and some others comfortable shape at another way. this is my stamp. i found the roman material and formed into this. one of the hardest things to do, what do i leave out? they could have been 400,000 words. it could have been awful.
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on the my thesis remembrance of things past. so that was hard. , i was doinging it it as well. that first experience, i didn't have a lot else to compare. as i was learning i would start cutting stuff from earlier chapters because i was trying to fit that in later. anyone who lasto ha tried to write, i look up writing advice. on the same place to go every morning at 8:00 a.m. and right. that is ridiculous. i wrote this book everywhere. , publicints transportation, numerous hotels in las vegas.
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so, yeah. i find writing to be really hard. i find it be difficult. i read it all out loud. that really helps me. anyplace that sounds clunky got cut because i wanted it to be companionable. any other questions? editor -- call my she asked if i have an audio version. no. unfortunately.
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>> coming soon? >> i hope so. >> it would be interesting for you to read it. >> i think so. >> i would enjoy it in audible form. charlie: thank you. anyone else agree? any other questions? >> did any reenactments have scripts? charlie: great question. say theough i will roman reenactment that i did in , two men have built a 26,000 square foot replica auxiliary fort with watchtowers and the moat. there is a celtic salt on the hill. they took this a scenario very seriously.
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there were not -- there was not dialogue but there was an outline what happens. i had no idea what was going on when i was there. not a clue. i walked into the world of people were speaking half latin and southern accents. what? [laughter] i can't understand latin in a standard american accent. devised a very clearly scenario, much more so than the other events. this felt very scripted. there would be moments when people would come in and be like julius, i have killed the celts. wase was one moment where i by a fence. i was fixing a shoelace or a
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sandal. i was by myself. there was nobody else around. tos guy, this roman came up the century and and was like i have killed the celts and i present you with his clothing. around. nobody they don't even now i am in here. scripted in some regards, yeah. i don't know if they had rehearsed it. but i was blown away. they are taking this seriously. i do this for an audience. they become the audience themselves. that was where i put that together.
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i saw one other hand go up. >> can you talk at all about the interpersonal politics between groups? that is something that fascinates me. by the: this is a roman, way. and a professor. a great question. have veryhe groups do different opinions. this is a hobby. nobody is getting paid. there is a lot of time commitments. you need almost a theater company, a benevolent dictator probablye romans are 25 legions or so in the united states.
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they are regional. are peopleve there who want to do it for different reasons. they are correcting each other. contentious be this -- i was on message boards and i would see these flinging back and forth, calling each other out on stuff. in the end it is probably good to have that dialogue. just because you are into this doesn't mean that you are all going to agree on how it should be interpreted or what the objective is. , they note about rome intellectuals, professors, another member is a rare coin dealer. is veryouth, the legion
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biblically oriented. they perform passion plays at local churches. depending on what region you when you find people are attracted to a particular moment in time for different regions. out here, i did find the religious aspect. in the south there was that aspect with rome in particular. yes? >> are any other countries doing this? charlie: definitely year of. -- europe. it is a western phenomenon. the only evidence of any eastern country is japan. , if youaware typically were a military power or if you were an imperial power at one
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or doesn'tother, have the connotations that it might have in countries that have been defeated. so you don't typically find in other countries that have been war, people with too keen of an interest in reliving it as a hobby. but it is definitely a western phenomenon. in england it is popular. they have a much deeper history than we have. reenacting is very popular in england. i think it is the most popular reenactment. leavitt are not. yes? -- believe it or not? being recent wars
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reenacted? charlie: noun. there are people collecting. outle will kind of put uniforms and weapons and people are starting to collect. some of the interest is in that was a uniform from 2004. that is not the uniform anymore. but the most recent war that has any real numbers is the anon. vietnam,-- is the which is by far the most disturbing reenactment. there was stuff that happened there that was quite disturbing for me. should i? why don't i read. of course. book, one of the
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the things i learned about was civic pride. a lot of rain actors asked me to think you will be, a reenactor? i didn't really think that it would. i was fascinated by the hobby and had a great time. i didn't really think that i would continue. but i started to ask my self that question, what would i do? what were the choices i would make? this is my chance to editorialize. i hope this reveals my sense of humor but also my civic pride. i wanted to do something about the place where i lived. that is difficult in los angeles because the history isn't that long and it is not that apparent. we have paved over a lot of it. i decided that i was going to do
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walkhing, and that was to between the los angeles missions. dressed as a spanish friar. civilian,that was something that was ambushed history where you dress up and go out in public and make people go huh? and do a double take and wonder. then you can say this was what was happening right here 200 years ago. order of business was to map my route. spanish priors were down a trail oyale.lled it el camino r i would have loved to follow in their footsteps but it is now a freeway. seeing as how walking on the 101 would result in certain death i did what any educated man would do.
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route my journey. i opened my laptop and trace the 26.7 mile task as it is exact. -- zigzagged. valley., burbank, sun i zoomed in to look closer. residential and commercial districts, freeway overpasses, airports, schools, six lane boulevards. saw it passed i within 300 feet of my apartments. for seven years i had lived in the middle of history and didn't know it. once i determine my course i set about planning the largest -- whenever the friars locked between missions,
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soldiers accompanied them. i decided to combine the two companions into a sherpa soldier and list friends who would mind carrying a backpack filled with water and informational flyers. i divided each shifted to a five mile stretch. my wife volunteered to be the first one and i was excited for her to join me. it was the first she had seen me do. iter a year of leaving town was happy to share my experience with her. during those two months i read a number of books on the missions but was surprised to find one of my favorite factoids in a children's book. rats infiltrated the san fernando mission granary. a friar borrowed cats from san gabriel. i decided to incorporated into my walk as an objective for my
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character. just in case somebody asked me what i was up to. the day after i read this windy and i headed to toys "r" us ride. a small black and white cap. -- cat. if you don't look good in authentic gear than what is the point? i opted for a more efficient approach. i ordered my brown habit from a costume store. the most imperfect soul can achieve the look of spiritual professional with this costume. i figured if i was going to cut corners on my car i had to go hard-core on the hair. i decided to shave it into my own tonsure.
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all i can say is that it sounded like a good idea the time. the night before the walk on equal friday in early january and went back to the salon where i got my nazi haircut. the price had risen from seven dollars to eight dollars. to give my hairdresser a visual idea of what i wanted i printed out a few pictures from the internet. after waiting nervously for five minutes i was approached by a woman with auburn hair named anita. are you ready, she asked. i sat up and looked her in the eye. i feared she would think i was a plant in a show. flinch.'t i'm walking between the missions i said nervously.
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he did not respond. she continued to consider the hair. i doubt really want to do this. i am writing a book. i like my hair far too much to shave it off. she kept her head down. she studied my head and spoke. it's ok. .any people want strange hair i think when done, you must wear a hat. [laughter] i pulled one out of my back pocket. it is hard to believe but the practice was only abolished in six.by pope paul the
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it was not as so many people surmised a massively hideous old bald spot. my tonsure took the better part of an hour. i look like a cross between st. francis and dumb and dumber. after some time i finally summoned up enough courage to look in the mirror. wow, i said. i am sure none of her instructors ever asked her to fashion a tonsure and yet despite this being her first effort it was flawless. she was my st. paul mitchell. she looked at me sincerely and said now would be a good time for a hat.
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i paid her double for her hard work and slept outside into the alley way that leads to our apartment. i slid the key in slowly so wendy would not hear me. once inside i left the cap on and kicked off my shoes so i could wash off. halfway there she spotted me. let's see, she said. just a minute, i said, shutting the door. i took off my clothes to tidy up the stubble. she flung open the door. oh no, she said. oh no,. i could have close the door but she needed to see me so she can start acclimating. >> i just need to tidy up my temples i said. darling, oh darling.
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oh no. oh no. it's ok. it will grow back. no, no, no she said. i'm just saying, it is inevitable. that hick up of emotional intelligence launch a shower of tears with her and nothing i said could stop them. now it was happening again. i feel cold she said, i'm shivering in my tummy. i feel like i am standing on the edge of a cliff. hey, hey. it will only be for a day. she bolted out of the bathroom. a couple of months earlier she approved my idea. she had known that i was going to get my haircut. i couldn't understand why she was so upset. i turned around to resume shaving but when i looked in the mirror i didn't recognize the
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person staring back at me. he was buck naked and a ring of hair circled his bald head. i raise my hand and he raised his. i slid the razor down my face and so did he. but that guy in the mirror looked like a crazy person. time whenback to the john said that to be an reenactor the first thing you is admit to yourself that you are a little crazy. i officially arrived. thank you very much. [applause] >> on history bookshelf, here from the country's best-known american history writers of the past decade every saturday at 4:00 eastern. watch any of our programs at any time you visit our website. you are watching american history television all weekend,
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every weekend. >> c-span is touring cities across the country exploring american history. next a look at our visit to syracuse, new york. >> the eerie canal is a artificial river. the way that occurred was they build a canal from buffalo to albany, and then went to new york city. there were settlements on the frontier. this was a swampy area.
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it is also allowing for commerce to take place here. they will have storefronts facing the canal and storefronts facing the land. the thierry would be brought in to be sold to the city of syracuse. it was an efficient way of carrying on business. one thing that comes to mind his hats. people always came to syracuse to buy hats. they could buy a hat that was made here, or made in england. what was shipped out of here was salt.
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we had salt springs here and a lot of salt was shipped out of here. 1850 twonstructed in way the boat carrying cargo on the eerie canal. a fee was assessed for the weight of the cargo. it was weighed each time it carried cargo through the canal. the boat would pull in off the onal, gates would be closed either end of the way chamber. it takes up the full length of the building. the those gates are closed chamber is drained and the boat settles into a cradle. the cradle detaches to the standard scale, and the boat is weighed. once it is weighed, the fee is
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being paid, the chamber is refilled, and once the water reaches parity the gates are opened and the next boat comes way for bothan an hour that way. this was opened in 1850. this where boats were weighed until the state ceased to weigh boats in 1882. they didn't have any need to keep collecting these. there were some upgrades to the buildings. it was where the typist would type up the reports from the engineers working upstairs. into the 1950's when
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the building had clearly become too small and unworkable. the state was able to build across the street a new state office building. the people who worked here across the street, this was marked for demolition. saw the building and came out and saved it. it seemed like an appropriate place to build a canal museum. and when they open the museum in 1962. what is it that we can do best and still be able to collaborate with all these other side? we don't have any water near us area where the only maritime -- we interpret this ,uilding, and life in syracuse
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and beyond that we give a good introduction to the history of the canal. then we tell people where to go to find other things they can use to extend their learning. occurrede things that through the transition of the canal to a more recreational operation, and through the cleaning up of the water, communities began turning back to the canal. it was a dirty, smelly industrial site. in the 1970's and 1980's they began to turn back. you would see restaurants popping up. it became more interesting to look at the canal. a number of new museum's "the way. the canal was always reinventing itself.
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to be replaced by boats carrying a great deal of cargo or a line boat like this one. as the railroads were consolidated parallel to the canal they began to take some of the uses of the canal away. the canal always was finding new things to do. with the expansion we see shipments of oil in large vehicles, other things like that. thatreally took down freight shipping on the eerie bars and now was another canal. it allowed for oceangoing vessels to come into the great lakes. at that point the eerie canal
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became more of a recreational place which it is today. it is a huge tourist attraction. it is the thing that made it possible for this country to become rich. it is a living history museum itself. the impact of this thing, this is the pivotal moment in american history, this is what made america america. >> find out where the c-span cities to her is going next online at c-span.org /citiestour.
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>> coming up, the african-american civil war memorial and museum, and u.s. he argues they played a broader role in defeating the confederacy than generally considered. the national civil war museum hosted this event. >> good afternoon. i did spend 21 years in the marine corps. whenever my marines would complain i have promised them i would not get my haircut for 10 years after i got out. theatersin movie across this country, you could have seen a film produced by the u.s. government

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