Monday, July 21, 2008

POSTCARD HISTORY LESSON - The "Twelve Passenger Gondola"

It's occurred to me that it's been way too long since I built a good old-fashioned Postcard History Lesson.
Contrary to popular belief, I haven't run out of them (sorry to those of you who hoped I had).
If you're a regular reader of the gondolablog, you're familiar with my postcard pontifications.
And if you're a regular reader, you either trust my interpretations, or are here today for something to laugh about.
Either way, I'm just thankful you're here.

Today's card-du-jour is one of my all-time favorites:
The "twelve passenger gondola" cruise in Venice, California.

I have many postcards in my collection, but this is one is exceptional.
I've waited a long time to post it because it's one of the best images that ever came out of Venice, California.
It offers an incredible glimpse into the way things were in Abbott Kinney's "Venice of the West" during the early days of the 20th Century.

As I've indicated in the past, I don't know precisely why the gondoliers took out so many people, but we have too many images not to assume that they did max out their passenger loads.
This gondolier had twelve passengers on his boat.
It can be done, but you need to be up for a challenge.

At this point I must include those famous words:
"Kids, do not try this at home!"
If done incorrectly, a gondolier can roll his boat over, and while the gondola will not sink (because wood floats), some of the passengers might not enjoy the spontaneous baptism which will inevitably follow.

So, for hypothetical discussion purposes only, here's how I think one might attempt to recreate the image from this remarkable postcard:

First, you need to convert the forward trastolini (steps at the front of the salon area) into a seat for two.

Next, you remove the trastolini and trasto bagagli in front of you, and modify it to seat four (kind of like a double rumble seat).

You can throw an extra passenger on the deck right in front of you and step back to row.

Lastly, you've got to have good balance, because that much passenger weight will most certainly cause the boat to wallow back and forth.
One person leans over to look at a jellyfish, and it's "game over".

Here's a close-up of the "rumble seat" area and the extra passenger on the gondolier's deck.

As an interesting aside, this gondola not only had a five-fingered ferro, it appeared to either be painted gold, or made from a metal that had a yellow color to it.
My guess - paint.

Now, if one of you actually attempts this stunt:
If it works - send me a photo.
If it doesn't work - definitely send me a photo, and don't sue me, only a bonehead would try such a thing.


Anonymous said...

Greg, Greg, Greg,
It would take a bonehead AND a jack ass.

Gondola Greg said...

Bepi, you crack me up.
Which one rows poppa and which one takes the picture?

Anonymous said...

You said "only a bonehead" yourself. With your camara,quick wit, and humble self imposed nickname the roles seem clear.