Love that sidecar.
Snowbound for awhile at the nursing home, the mind wanders to the web.
Curious to know the origins of the terms rumble seat and dickey seat, I found a book online printed in 1903 entitled Stage-Coach and Mail in Days of Yore, which is about the horse drawn coaches of 1550 to 1875 in Britain, Scotland and Wales.
Before about 1670 even the king’s coach did not have springs. From about 1700 to 1780 stage coaches were just a box on springs seating up to 6 passengers. Luggage was carried in a big wicker basket attached, not to the box, but to the rear axle crosstree, so it had no benefit of the springs. Coachmen and ostlers were careless with the luggage, tumbling it into the basket anyhow. Proprietors discovered that people were willing to ride on the roof for half fare, lying flat or sitting hanging onto ropes and handles. If the roof was full, the unfortunate last outside fare went into the basket, which was a very uncomfortable ride due to the lack of springs and the terrible roads of those days, bruises and sore bones being commonly expected. Convicted felons in chains also rode back there on their way to Newgate, Horsemonger Lane, the Tower and the Clink, taking that last opportunity to give their opinions to the public as they passed. The basket became known among the regular passengers as the “rumble-tumble”.
So perhaps the term “rumble seat” may have been derived from those stage coaches in Britain.
From 1780 to 1848 was the era of the Royal Mail coaches, which carried the mail and the mail revenues, and needed an armed guard, who rode way at the back on a high seat so he could see the would-be robbers, and get a shot at them with his blunderbuss. The mail bags were carried in a locked box under his boots, and he had a long horn or a keyed trumpet to announce his approach to the next town where horses were changed, in some cases playing a popular tune. The single seat was known as the “dickey seat”. Mail coaches and the competing stage coaches gradually acquired more seats on the roof for more half-fare “outsides”.
The book unfortunately does not reveal the reason for the name, variously spelled dickey, dicky or dickie, but this was also a term used for any tiny bird. Theories on the internet mostly revolve around a little musical dickey bird on a high perch, or the name Richard.