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Friar tuckered after historical walk

Writer dresses up and reenacts the hike from San Gabriel to San Fernando missions.

January 12, 2011|By Gretchen Meier,
(Cheryl A. Guerrero )

Glenoaks Boulevard pedestrians don't typically attract much attention, but a man walking down the street Saturday wearing a friar's habit and a tonsure haircut sure did.

The tonsure, or "Friar Tuck" haircut was the final piece of Charlie Schroeder's historical reenactment this weekend, which garnered jokes about how cold his head was and tears from his wife.

"I walked in and she started crying from shock," Schroeder said. "And yes, she knows I'm crazy."

Schroeder's reenactment of an 18th century friar's walk between the San Gabriel Mission Arcángel to San Fernando Mission Rey de España, a distance of 26.7 miles, is the culmination of a year of research for his first book about the past 2,000 years of Western civilization.

The book, scheduled to come out in May 2012, has taken Schroeder across the country to dress as a Roman Legionnaire to invade Britannia in AD 43 and fight alongside 1,251 soldiers in the largest Civil War battle reenactment.


The writer, actor and radio producer wants to present readers with a unique view of history that he believes has not been explored.

Along the way, Schroeder has befriended other reenactors. Repeated conversations led Schroeder to conceive his own reenactment in his own neighborhood.

"You walk away from a military reenactment seeing the battle and gun smoke but never really grasping the history," Schroeder said. "You get the spectacle without understanding the content."

A resident of Burbank for the past six years, Schroeder said he wanted to do something that involved his own community. He also spent countless hours in the Buena Vista Library researching the area and writing the first eight chapters of his manuscript.

"Burbank only goes back about 100 years and there's a ton of history about it being a production town and the arrival of the movie studio," Schroeder said. "But in the greater Los Angeles area, you can't get much farther back than the missions."

Schroeder chose the marathon-length walk in an attempt to "ambush" people with history.

"I'm not sure what people will find more peculiar — someone walking in Los Angeles or someone walking in Los Angeles while dressed as a Spanish friar," Schroeder said.

Among his friends who joined him along Glenoaks Boulevard on Saturday included a brother-and-sister pair he met when he participated in an 18th-century boat ride called "The Big Row" down the Saint Lawrence River.

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