Once in a while I get cocky, thinking I know about all the gondolas in North America, and then I get knocked over by a photo like this one.
Long ago I had made up my mind that a gondola had never graced the waters of Oregon.
Boy, was I wrong.
And she wasn't just any gondola either.
By all appearances, she looks like a Venice-built boat which had been modified for maximum passenger loads.
This photo was taken in 1920 at Lake Grove Park in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Let's start at the bow.
I've seen a few gondolas in my time that weren't built in a Venetian squero, but looked like they were. I never say "never", but I'm pretty sure this gondola was a true Venetian.
The lines of the bow, or "prova" are awfully hard to mimic.
The deck isn't fully carved, so she's not a wedding gondola, but there are some interesting carvings along the perimeter, even if they are difficult to see in this photo.
Now let's take a look at the salon, or passenger area.
The first thing we notice, of course, is that it's jammed with "bathing beauties" who are dressed in swim suits that were typical of the 1920's. I count a total of nine passengers, seated in no fewer than five forward-facing seats, each with it's own heart-shaped backrest.
Those seats occupy not only the traditional passenger area, but also the area just ahead of the gondolier where trastolini boards are usually found.
I would guess that this gondola either came from San Francisco's Panama Pacific Expo, which took place in 1915, or she may have come from ports further south such as Venice or Naples, California.
Now let's take a look at the back of the boat.
First thing I notice, of course is "Tarzan the Ape Man" there.
I'm not sure if that swim suit was typical of the time, but the guy resembles one of those guys who played such characters in the old movies.
I don't think you'll see very many gondoliers out there in this uniform.
In this close-up you can get a better idea of how near the aft seat is to the gondolier.
His stance is partly correct, and he looks like he's got the boat moving (at least a little bit), but our Tarzan gondolier here has choked up on the remo. He's probably trying to impress all those "bathing beauties".
"Look at me, ladies - I can even row using only 85% of the oar!"