Monday, August 11, 2008

POSTCARD HISTORY LESSON - Bathing Girls of Venice, California

How do I begin a post like this?
I don't even know where to start.
I could remark on how bathing suits have changed.
I could express my thanks for having been born later.
Perhaps some mention of the fact that the two seated girls look like they literally went out of their way to look ridiculous. Then again, I've seen a lot of people these day who could easily fit that same description. (insert your favorite rant here - suggestions include baggy pants, overt display of underwear, goth, or just about anything on a "fashion runway")

On second thought, I think I'll just jump right into the analysis of boat and operator.
Hmmm. She's got the wrong stance, wrong grip, wrong posture.
She's not an operator.
Yes, clearly this "gondolier" was not chosen for the photo based on her rowing prowess.

Ok, so moving on to the gondola, I have three things to point out:
1. the boat sure looks like a Venice-built craft.
The strangely faceted deck looks authentic, even if it's beige!

2. so the next point is that,as I just mentioned, the deck is beige!
And, WHOA! The hull is red!
This is possibly the most compelling evidence we have that some of the gondolas in Venice, California were painted colors other than black. I'm researching the subject of non-black gondolas, and at some point in the future, I'll post it here.

and now for number three.

3. Did you notice it yet?
It should be fairly obvious to the trained eye.
If not, take another look at the two passengers.
More specifically, look at where they are seated.
yes, they're sitting a bit too close to the gondolier.
As I've mentioned in previous posts involving gondolas from this same time period in California, some creative things were done to expand passenger capacity.
The most obvious was how they transformed the area aft of the main seat, or "divan" into a seating area.
I usually call it the "rumble seat".

The postcard image comes from 1911. The Race Through the Clouds rollercoaster in the background tells us that it was taken in an area known as the "Lagoon".
For views of the "Lagoon", both today and eighty-five years ago, see my post from August 1st.

Last thought:
What the heck is with the socks?
I mean, I understand the need to cover certain parts of a woman's body back then, but the feet?
And have you ever tried to swim in socks?
truly a bad idea.

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