Everybody Wanted a Sinful Canoe
June 8, 2018 11:54 PM   Subscribe

Before the youth of America fooled around at drive-ins and necked on Lover’s Lane, they coupled in canoes. It didn't last very long, because automobiles started showing up everywhere, but while the craze was on, it was cra-a-a-zy.
posted by MovableBookLady (85 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
Rowing clubs actually started as racing for canoe pinks
posted by XMLicious at 12:12 AM on June 9


I guess they were...

...CANOEDLING.


*puts on sunglasses*

*reads article*


Dammit!
posted by darkstar at 12:18 AM on June 9 [116 favorites]


Thanks, OP! This is a fabulous article and the illustrations were wonderful.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:32 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


By far the best part:

As further proof that canoeing had become a hotbed for teenage delinquents, in 1913 the Minneapolis Parks Board refused to issue permits for canoes with unpalatable names. Local newspapers published some of the offensive phrases that slipped past the board the previous summer, including “Thehelusa,” “Kumonin Kid,” “Kismekwik,” “Damfino,” “Ilgetu,” “Aw-kom-in,” “G-I-Lov-U,” “Skwizmtyt,” “Ildaryoo,” “Win-kat-us,” “O-U-Q-T,” “What the?,” “Joy-tub,” “Cupid’s Nest,” and “I Would Like to Try It.”
posted by mannequito at 12:33 AM on June 9 [21 favorites]


"American Beer is a lot like making love in a canoe—it's fucking close to water." ~Eric Idle

But seriously this was a really cool article. Hooray for history!
posted by one for the books at 12:40 AM on June 9 [16 favorites]




So all of those watery beer jokes were on to something after all.
posted by ckape at 1:23 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


Floating brothels. Hmm, I knew it. Wait until Jan from the bridge club hears about this.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:27 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Highly recommend couples canoeing at sunset. I'm intrigued by the supposed prevalence of canoeing in the dark at one time in Minnesota; my canoeing partner was terrified to be out on the lake and then walking back through the woods after dark, heh, so we hauled in at dusk.
posted by limeonaire at 1:31 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Whatever floats your boat ...

Fascinating history, thanks for posting this!
posted by carter at 3:40 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Great post. Here's a cute Carter Family song about canoeing.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:13 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


“Thehelusa,” “Kumonin Kid,” “Kismekwik,” “Damfino,” “Ilgetu,” “Aw-kom-in,” “G-I-Lov-U,” “Skwizmtyt,” “Ildaryoo,” “Win-kat-us,” “O-U-Q-T,” “What the?,” “Joy-tub,” “Cupid’s Nest,” and “I Would Like to Try It.”
Some of these ‘unpatatable names’ are like old AOL chat screen names!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:33 AM on June 9 [17 favorites]


Well, now that one time that an old swain and I had sex in a rowboat seems a lot less subversive.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:57 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]




My wife has a picture of her great-grandparents in a canoe from around 1915. We may be forced to reinterpret it now.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:19 AM on June 9 [28 favorites]


The love boat... soon will be making another run...

The love boat... promises something for every one.
posted by hippybear at 5:55 AM on June 9 [10 favorites]


“Joy-tub”

“I Would Like to Try It.”


Found Oscar’s canoe

Also Felix’s
posted by schadenfrau at 6:05 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Fun fact: the automobile was originally called a "land canoe."
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:06 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I blame American beer/
posted by ocschwar at 6:21 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Canoe sex is literally the only time I ever get close to a man in a boat.
posted by sonascope at 6:27 AM on June 9 [17 favorites]


In suburban Minneapolis in the early 90s if you were in high school and didn't have much money or a car but had access to lots of lakes after dark this sort of thing was probably still going on. Or so I've heard.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 6:28 AM on June 9 [18 favorites]


And then, when you arrived at the paddle-in movie theater, things would get REALLY sexy.
posted by Rinku at 6:44 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


Imagine throwing a ukulele to the mix.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:45 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


It's the hanging the speakers on the side of the canoe that is the most dangerous, because water + electricity.
posted by hippybear at 6:46 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


In suburban Minneapolis in the early 90s if you were in high school and didn't have much money or a car but had access to lots of lakes after dark this sort of thing was probably still going on. Or so I've heard.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage


Eponysexy!
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:52 AM on June 9 [24 favorites]


A canoe seems eminently more suited to this sort of thing than a car.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:55 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


This puts Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) in a whole new light….
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:58 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]


A canoe seems eminently more suited to this sort of thing than a car.

Cars are significantly less likely to capsize mid-passion.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:02 AM on June 9 [9 favorites]


"If this canoe is rockin', don't come without your life jacket, safety line, waterproof flashlight, and rescue beacon."
posted by clawsoon at 7:09 AM on June 9 [20 favorites]


Given my 6'2" frame and general clumsiness, I can't see any attempt at canoe-based amorousness ending in anything but disaster.
posted by octothorpe at 7:09 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


One way or another, it's all about the little man in the boat.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:09 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]




Sinful Canoe

Dibs on username.
posted by each day we work at 7:13 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Seems a good time to recall that old joke about a university boat race team requiring eight men to squeeze into a boat with their very small cox.
posted by Paul Slade at 7:25 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


The Girl Canoeists' Tight Skirts Menace Society is the steampunk riot grrl band name I never knew I was waiting all my life for.
posted by umbú at 7:27 AM on June 9 [40 favorites]


I really don't get sexual mores of this era. There was a lot more room for hijinks than was publically acknowledged. See also petting parties, a thing of the 1910s and 20s.

I was interested in this photo from Detroit that in many of the canoes the women are doing the paddling while the men lounge. Also one canoe with two ladies! Although given the public event on display, perhaps they were simply Boston married.
posted by Nelson at 7:29 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


My nephew was conceived in a canoe.
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:37 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Paging Will Ferrel and Rachel Dratch to reprise their Lovahs sketch.
posted by ian1977 at 7:55 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Well, at least they were a lot safer than the sex blimps.
posted by Philipschall at 8:01 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I guess they were...

...CANOEDLING.


One thing I love about MetaFilter is that I knew that 35 comments in, I had no hope of being the first person to make this joke.

“Girl Canoeists’ Tight Skirts Menace Society,”

All right, I was looking for a name for my next album!

Great piece. thanks for posting.
posted by Miko at 8:08 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


No Trudeau quote?
posted by furtive at 8:09 AM on June 9


No Trudeau quote?

Elder or younger Trudeau?
posted by clawsoon at 8:14 AM on June 9


Who knew the song, Just a Boy and Girl we sang at Girl Scout camp was actually a historical lesson!
posted by vespabelle at 8:39 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


No Pierre Berton quote?
posted by Old Man Wilson at 8:39 AM on June 9


No Trudeau quote?

Sorry, I've been workshopping portage jokes for the thread since I got up this morning with no luck. Maybe I should just drop a Mr. Canoehead reference and go.
posted by nubs at 8:45 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


This made me think immediately of poor Grace Brown at Big Moose Lake. That story became An American Tragedy, which became A Place in the Sun. It makes me nervous to go on little boats with people who might not like me very much, although possibly that was just my early experience at Girl Scout camp.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:46 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Coureurs de bois, indeed.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:50 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Canoeing was what we did at 15-18 years old. You can’t get a car license before 18 here, and there are plenty waterways. Still today, canoeing seems romantically glorious to me. My kids find it wet and boring
posted by mumimor at 9:00 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


"Damfino" is cribbed from Buster Keaton's The Boat.
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:08 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Life jackets, although important and necessary, are thoroughly unflattering and smell like mildew. Their rise and requirement have probably also cut down on the romance of canoeing.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:08 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


And the incels only had kayaks.
posted by jamjam at 9:12 AM on June 9 [17 favorites]


“misconduct in canoes has become so grave and flagrant that it threatens to throw a shadow upon the lakes as recreation resorts and to bring shame upon the city.”

Yessssss.
posted by Hypatia at 9:20 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


In suburban Minneapolis in the early 90s if you were in high school and didn't have much money or a car but had access to lots of lakes after dark this sort of thing was probably still going on. Or so I've heard.

I moved to Minneapolis many decades after my high school days, but I can testify that similar things are still going on. Among nephew's age cohort at Washburn High, they had what they called "mocking," which meant going into the woods in Minneapolis's huge park system & feeling each other up while strung up in a hammock between two trees.
posted by jonp72 at 9:29 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I really don't get sexual mores of this era. There was a lot more room for hijinks than was publically acknowledged. See also petting parties, a thing of the 1910s and 20s.

The musical Gold Diggers of 1933, best known for introducing the world to We're In The Money, also had a musical number titled Pettin' in the Park. The song was evidently popular enough that there was a 78 rpm recording of Dick Powell singing the song from the movie.
posted by jonp72 at 9:34 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


Hop in my rowboat, it's as big as a pail
And it's about to *boat overturns and dumps the horny teens in the drink*
posted by jason_steakums at 9:45 AM on June 9 [12 favorites]


jonp72, I can't tell if that musical number is sweetly romantic or a fossil artifact of rape culture. It's kind of both at the same time and I'm not sure that's OK.
posted by Nelson at 10:15 AM on June 9


The most adventurous thing I ever did in a canoe was stand up sculling in the middle of Portage Bay for about twenty minutes. Needless to say, it was a very calm overcast day with nary a ripple nor power boats out and about kicking up wakes. And I was much younger. And drunk. Possibly the most foolhardy thing I ever did.

But I did it and never tipped the canoe.

Needless to say as well is I never did it again.
posted by y2karl at 11:04 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I knew that 35 comments in, I had no hope of being the first person to make this joke.

The word canoedling is discussed in TFA.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:14 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


My kids find it wet and boring

This is exactly my feelings about canoeing, but I never lived in a place where romantic canoeing was a thing. I can see how that would make it a much more exciting activity (especially if it was not mosquito/black fly season).
posted by Dip Flash at 11:15 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


The most adventurous thing I ever did in a canoe was stand up sculling in the middle of Portage Bay for about twenty minutes. Needless to say, it was a very calm overcast day with nary a ripple nor power boats out and about kicking up wakes. And I was much younger. And drunk. Possibly the most foolhardy thing I ever did.

Once some friends and I went camping on an island in the untamed portion of the Missouri River near Vermillion, SD and being young idiots ignorant of the dangers, crossed to the island on overloaded canoes with no life preservers, none of us super strong swimmers (in a stretch of the river where being a strong swimmer probably doesn't even help) and only one of us experienced at canoeing. The current was very, very strong and fast, but we didn't get close to the whirlpools by the shore and we just aimed way, way upstream so we could hit the island, so it ended up fine... but looking back on it now, holy shit, bone deep retrospective fear every time I think of it, because that was unbelievably stupid and dangerous.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:22 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


At last, I finally understand all those postcards in Grandma's album with the caption, "Do You Canoe?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:37 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]




The word canoedling is discussed in TFA.

I noticed that, but since it doesn't have anything to do with the word "canoe," it's still available as a pun. It's also not really a "most likely' origin, based on the couple of etymology links I checked out, just one possible origin.
posted by Miko at 12:10 PM on June 9


Imagine throwing a ukulele to the mix.

Cliff Edwards got your back.
posted by scruss at 12:24 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I really don't get sexual mores of this era.

Well, since I've been informed by Baby Boomers that they invented sex, Iassume the couples got together in the canoes to exchange hearty handshakes? Or play Parcheesi?
posted by happyroach at 12:31 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I can tell most of you aren’t seasoned floaters. 65 comments in and I’m the first one to make a “hump & tump” joke.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:36 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I really don't get sexual mores of this era. There was a lot more room for hijinks than was publically acknowledged.
I find the whole 1890s-WWI social ruction fascinating, because there's a lot more modernity than current pop culture talks about, and it's only half-hidden. Nice People Don't Talk About It works both ways for a while (as with Boston marriages). One thing that explains some of it is that the lower working classes could be more independent than the middle classes; it was shopgirls and mechanics' apprentices petting in the park, and they paid their own rent so their parents didn't control them, and if they made it to work on time, who cared? And they had radical intellectual amusements as well as sexual ones.
posted by clew at 12:41 PM on June 9 [11 favorites]


Well, since I've been informed by Baby Boomers that they invented sex, I assume the couples got together in the canoes to exchange hearty handshakes? Or play Parcheesi?

Bad mouthed mom and dad ? Oops ! That was definitely an invention of Gen Xers -- or wait, was that the millenials ?
posted by y2karl at 1:00 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Another naughty canoeing song: Row! Row! Row! from 1912
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:22 PM on June 9


More to the point, if my upthread experience indicates anything, the combination of canoes and canoodling is feasible but requires extreme limberness, great balance, high motivation and poor judgment. In short, youth.

But as for besporting yourselves amorously while canoe bound in the Arboretum is concerned, cover is recommended. When blue herons let loose, they carpet bomb. Seriously.
posted by y2karl at 1:23 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I really don't get sexual mores of this era. There was a lot more room for hijinks than was publically acknowledged.

If you really want to bake your noodle, look up "bundling".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:30 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


For Sayers fans, Love in Bloom.
posted by clew at 1:36 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


Heh I was waiting for furious embraces in punts to come up.
posted by PussKillian at 1:50 PM on June 9


The commissioners unanimously agreed to outlaw phrases lacking obvious moral and grammatical standards, though a few of these clever pre-text-message abbreviations clearly had them scratching their heads.

Today’s mods have similar problems, I gather.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:59 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


And now I'm looking at Ratty in a whole new light.
Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing... about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not.
posted by zamboni at 3:39 PM on June 9 [15 favorites]


This actually sounds hella fun. There's a reason that water beds were considered erotic, no? Literal physical shifting probably invigorates the mood!

However, we don't really have lakes/rivers around here, and an ocean kayak would be a pretty Darwin-Awardy place to get it on.
posted by desert outpost at 4:14 PM on June 9


Another naughty canoeing song: Row! Row! Row! from 1912

Well if we're going there we need to see the Muppets/Elke Summer version.
posted by Miko at 5:09 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Thehelusa

Can somebody help me with this one? I don't get it. I'm so bad at sexy puns.
posted by The_Vegetables at 6:19 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Oh I think I just got it. "The Hell You Say". Hahha.
posted by The_Vegetables at 6:20 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


At last, I finally understand all those postcards in Grandma's album with the caption, "Do You Canoe?"

Or maybe not. There is a cologne or perfume called Canoe. In the 1960s, "Do you Canoe?" was the advertising slogan for it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:47 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Punts are not for kissing in, according to the good Reverend Spooner..
posted by Philby at 10:32 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


The commissioners unanimously agreed to outlaw phrases lacking obvious moral and grammatical standards, though a few of these clever pre-text-message abbreviations clearly had them scratching their heads.

The UK Jockey Club takes a similarly prudish line when authorising the names of British racehorses. I once heard of an owner who was banned from calling his horse "Norfolk & Chance" because of the rude phrase it invoked.

[Pronounced quickly and casually, "Norfolk & Chance" comes out as "No fuckin' chance" - the owner's tongue-in-cheek assessment of whether his horse would ever win a race.]
posted by Paul Slade at 11:52 PM on June 9


The UK Jockey Club takes a similarly prudish line when authorising the names of British racehorses

The US apparently doesn't. Bofa Deez Nuts wins race in Oklahoma
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:52 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Traditional American children's campfire song:

Just a boy and a girl in a little canoe
With the moon shining all around
As he glides his paddle
You couldn't even hear a sound

And they talked and they talked
Till the moon grew dim
He said you better kiss me
Or get out and swim

So what you gonna do in a little canoe
With the moon shining' all a--
Boats floating all a--
Girls swimmin' all a rou-ou-ound!

#metoo
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:07 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


"A Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe." Quote is usually attributed to Pierre Burton but it is apparently much older than that.
posted by Jane the Brown at 10:17 AM on June 10


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