Friday, May 16, 2008
POSTCARD HISTORY LESSON - "Hotel Gondolier" in Austin, Texas
The "Hotel Gondolier", as it is called in this postcard image, is seen on the banks of Town Lake, in downtown Austin, Texas. The description on the back refers to it as "The Gondolier Motor Hotel" located at Interstate 35 South and Riverside Drive. I have no idea when this postcard was printed, although it was probably circulated before ZIP codes were made mandatory, as the address information on the back does not include a ZIP code. After a brief internet search, I find no current hotel by that name in Austin, Texas, although I did find the building - still standing (thanks Google Earth!). The shoreline in the postcard looks to have some sort of pedal-boats or row-boats lined up. ...And then there's the gondola. I'm not quite sure what kind of gondola it is, but it's clear that the folks who produced this postcard, decided that they needed to have a gondola in the shot. In my opinion, it looks like someone made a few drastic modifications to a row-boat, giving it rather tall stems both fore and aft. This gives the boat an almost cartoon-like apearance. Hey, I'm not here to judge, I've got a few boats that I'm sure would be worthy of ridicule in the eyes of more tradition-minded gondola experts. I actually enjoy images like this because they foster such curiosity and contemplation. A Venice-built gondola in the photo would cause me to observe that...there was a Venice-built gondola in the photo. Oooh, very exciting. But this boat makes you wonder: "what the heck kind of gondola is that?" it makes you want to hunt down the old hull just to get a look at it, just to see for yourself that it really exists. Oh, and just to clarify, I'm pretty sure that this postcard was produced long before photoshop and other computer-aided methods existed. Whatever it was, this "gondola" wasn't the only one ever to grace the waters of Austin's Town Lake. Paul Parma holds the honor of being the only one we know of to place Venice-built gondolas on the water there. He brought two real beauties there about eight years ago. Have any of you ever heard of the Hotel Gondolier?