Tuesday, January 22, 2008

POSTCARD HISTORY LESSON - Gondola at Ross Fenton Farm

This postcard dates back to 1925 in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

In Monmouth County, New Jersey, a piece of land was bought by Charles Ross and Mabel Fentonhusband; a pair of vaudeville performers who were husband and wife.

This piece of land was in the Wanamassa section of Ocean Township, and while it was a farm, it was also a resort - one which attracted famous and well-to-do folks from New York.

Along with the farm, there was a large lakeside hotel, two casinos, and several guest cottages.

The typical water related leisure activities popular at the time were present, along with at least one gondola.

Considering the date of the photo, we can assume that this gondola was constructed out of wood. Fiberglass wasn't around yet. And steel construction, well, I'm pretty sure a gondola would sit a little bit deeper in the water if she were made of steel. No, I've never seen a steel gondola, I'm simply trying to list all the options.

In my opinion, she's not a Venice-built vessel, but a decent reproduction.

As with most of the images I post up, you should be able to click the photo to get an enlarged view.

When you look closely, you'll notice a few things that made this gondola unique:

1. the boat was not black. At first glance, one might assume she was white, but one of the gentlemen in the canoe behind the gondola was wearing a stark white shirt, giving the viewer a point of reference. Next to the man's white shirt, she appears to have been painted tan or a washed-out yellow. It cannot be seen very well, but the deck appears to either be exposed wood or painted brown.

2. there was a series of vertical boards known as "coamings" surrounding the perimeter of the salon area. This is not seen on Venetian gondolas but used to be quite common in American vessels, especially sailboats.

3. The curvature of the bow was less than on a normal gondola. Don't be confused by the presence of the dark canoe - every time I look at this image, that canoe tricks my eyes into thinking the bow was higher and darker than it probably was.

4. The ferro had four fingers in the front and seemed to have been mounted higher. It also appears that the ferro was either made of brass or painted in a gold-tone.

5. the deck at the back was smooth, with no cutouts or open spaces with trasto-boards. In fact the layout of this boat is quite similar to the ones in my December 31st post on Florida gondolas in the 1920's. The canopy isn't as long, so I would assume it's a different boat, but I wouldn't be surprised if they came from the same builder.

I love these kinds of images.

They tell a story while spinning a mystery at the same time.

Spend some time looking up gondolas in the US and you're likely to get an impromptu education on gondolas that graced the waters of:

Venice, California,

South Florida,

or Central Park in New York City.

But now and then I come across a boat I've never heard about until suddenly, there it is, staring right back at me...from a postcard.

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