"As a little kid, I loved military stuff," he said. "When I was about 14, one of the historical sites, near where I lived, they had Civil War Days reenactments. That was in the very early reenactment days. The events started getting more authentic with the Civil War Centennial in the '60s to the mid 70s. That's when I started collecting, though I wish I had started even sooner." Adding, "I bought clothing and other items when they were relatively inexpensive. Now they would be hard to replace. Most of it is very accurate, museum quality replicas. Some are original."
While in college he had the opportunity to work for the Detroit Historical Museum. As a curator of education, he headed an outreach program bringing living history experiences into public school classrooms. In the summer his work was at historic Fort Wayne training college kids as guides depicting Civil War soldiers, eventually working as a full time curator charged with exhibits, education, lectures, whatever was needed at the fort.
He was in command of the batteries (cannons were his specialty) for Truman's Army band for a very large ﬁreworks display. Also, he took part in several Presidential inaugurations.
When one of the last surviving Liberty ships came to the Great Lakes, he was a member of the crew in a reenactment of Pearl Harbor (a great honor because his dad had served on a Liberty ship when he was in the Navy). "I'm probably the only guy alive who (in a reenactment) ever shot down a Japanese plane over Lake Erie."
Also, "In homage to my dad, a World War II veteran, I took part in a massive reenactment, Virginia's 50th anniversary of D Day put on by the Department of Defense.
Enactments led to ﬁlming. he started riding horses for movies and television. The ﬁrst, a mini series titled North and South, the series that made Patrick Swazie famous. Strauss rode in a large calvary group pulling cannons. This led to many more ﬁlms, including "Gettysburg" where he was the second man on the crew with horses working under assistant director Skip Casper, providing much of the action. Ken Burns, who just completed a National Parks documentary, appeared in a cameo performance in that movie.
As a cavalryman in Geronimo, a movie ﬁlmed in Moab, Strauss was introduced to this part of the country. For about 20 years he's been involved with being a cavalryman from all different time periods.
Now, he said, "I've been helping Randy Beard build a German tank, very accurate." We are gearing up to reenact a big three-day non-stop WWII Russian front event over a wide area in eastern Colorado.
This led to teaching American History in Michigan. He now teaches history and geography at Central High School in Grand Junction, using his background to create added dimension in his classroom presentations. He commutes daily from his home on Rogers Mesa, where he and his wife have lived for the past two years.
Summers are spent working with the Forest Service in Paonia. That's a change of pace, out in the wilderness, often on horseback.
His American History class started with lessons on the Civil War. He came to class dressed as a Union soldier and talked to the students, in ﬁrst person about what it was like to serve as a soldier and what was going on in the war, industrialization and other changes going on at the time.
"Later this year, for my geography class, I will represent a Mexican Revolutionary guy while we talk about Latin America." He appears as a WWI soldier when lessons are about that era.
"The kids love it when I arrive wearing my Model A duster and driving gear, then remove that to reveal my 1890s bathing suit. It's the most ridiculous outﬁt you've ever seen ... the shoes, the black socks, striped bathing suit and skimmer." It gets their attention.
Currently, he's working on lesson plans about the early American explorations in this part of Colorado where he will take on the role of Captain Gunnison.
Local folks have seen him in various personae. Strouss rode his horse as he represented a Patriot in Paonia's 2007 Cherry Day parade and took ﬁrst place in the animal category. He also appeared dressed as a gambler during this year's Heritage Day at Pioneer Town in Cedaredge.blog comments powered by Disqus