Sunday, February 8, 2009

Canoes and Romance II - "Out in My Old Town Canoe"

Continuing with my "Wooden Canoe" article:
Then there is the song, "Out in my Old Town Canoe", written for a 1916 student musical comedy which intones:
"I've nestled down in limousines and heard love's whispered pleas, tender, true,
In sailing yachts romantic I have skimmed o'er many seas, 'Neath skies so blue,
I've spooned in cozy corners when the lights were low, And always missed my cue,
It seemed very pretty, but I surely know, There's no love like the love in my canoe,"
The song's chorus makes it plain that the composers were enthralled by the vision of a girl lounging in a canoe on the shimmering water on a dark summer night:
"Oh! Out in my Old Town canoe, boys, millions of twinkling stars above
Each little ripple enchants you, Whispering a hint of love
No heart can be unyielding, Sweetly 'twill answer and be true
Float on the shadowy river, Out in my Old Town canoe."
Canoe dating was not some new fad in these early years of the twentieth century. In an 1889 issue of the magazine Forest and Stream it was stated that: "The ordinary open canoes are coming into greater use each year. For pleasure paddling, and exercise, and especially for 'girling', they are unequaled."
Chicagoland Canoe Base's Ralph Freese is quoted on the subject in the 1999 issue of Canoe Journal, "In the early 1900's on the Charles River in Boston, the water was busy with canoes. Every single cove along the bank hidden by willow branches was known to young lovers who wanted to sneak away for privacy. It got to be such a 'problem' that the city passed an ordinance that 'no heads were allowed below the gunwales.' Water police in rowboats patrolled the river night and day to apprehend the scofflaws. Now those were the good ol' days!"
NEXT: What kind of canoe did Ed and Ike rent?

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