Not long ago, we blogged together in this space about the mishaps of lovers who had to operate under the watchful eyes of a parent or two True to the belief that the course of true love runs never smooth, postcard cartoonists were cheerfully willing to admit that those who got out into the open air, away from the confines and surveillance of the parlor, did not have it all that easy, either. And a constant theme of these cartoonists was the danger of damp.
It is unfair, I suppose, to call the mighty Charles Dana Gibson a postcard cartoonist, since his work had become world-famous in the pages of magazines before postcards were even allowed to have pictures on ‘em. But his publishers DID bring out a line of postcards as an afterthought, and here we see one of the most popular of his works, the couple in love who simply have no idea (and don’t care) what’s going on around them.
This couple is similarly inclined. The tide is coming in and their boat is drifting away, but none of this will matter until rather later
A trick of the postcard publisher was the story series, in which you could follow an entire comedy by buying half a dozen or so postcards. This couple is high and dry, if not high-minded.
They have come out to the riverside to have a nice time together in privacy. Note that there are no fishermen or boaters handy to sneak a peek at what’s going on. They have picked just the right dock: it’s kind of small to attract people who are here to enjoy the water.
Two grown-ups can surely find a time and a place for private contemplation of the intricacies of their relationship. Perhaps he is thinking about how much money he sets aside from his paycheck each week to be able to afford, one day, a happy home for them to move into as newlyweds.
Perhaps she is even now running over the contents of her hope chest, and thinking of what else she needs for her trousseau.
There is, by the way, a YouTube channel (creamofcardstv) where a postcard collector has made short animated films by photographing these sequential series in order. The films are short, but tell their story, as we have here: another splashy ending for an unsuspecting couple.
This is not to say that every single couple canoodling in a canoe (yes, several postcard artists used the joke about canoe-dling) was unaware of the danger.
A sudden moment of passion could, of course, lead to a drenching (and profitable stocking exposure for that sort of postcard buyer.)
What it comes down to, I guess, is that the postcard artists wanted you to understand the essential incorrectness of the naughty old admonition, “You can’t walk home from a boat ride.”