Saturday, October 13, 2007

Riding Shotgun

In the American west of the 19th and early 20th centuries, riding in a horse-drawn stage coach was an important and popular mode of transportation. Think of stage coaches as the Greyhound Bus of that era.

It was dangerous, in that the stage coaches routinely carried mail and money from one bank to another, so they were serious targets for bandits who wanted to steal the money or from the passengers.

One man sat up top and drove the horses and coach, and another man invariably rode up there next to him as a lookout and carrying a shotgun for discouraging any untoward advances by bandits or indians against the coach or it's passengers.

Thus the term "riding shotgun" came in to the lexicon of American English and is still with us even though stage coaches no longer are.

In America, when a group of people go somewhere together in a car someone invariably calls out "Shotgun!", thereby staking their claim on the front passenger seat. That way they get the view and the coolest air from the air conditioner.

Alas, folks don't carry shotguns with them any more. Well not legally anyway, but the term is known by and used by most Americans.

I often ask Lovely Wife drive when we're going somewhere together. I usually have my camera in hand and can take the occasional photo or two out of the passenger window without worrying about driving.

The brand of shotgun I take on these trips is Nikon.

If something really appealing comes up, she can pull over so I can quickly get out and snap a few shots, photographically speaking.

These two photos were simply taken after rolling down the window while stopped at a traffic light, first in Melbourne and then again in Palm Bay, where we live.

They aren't great, but things like this appeal to me simply because they are scenes I've seen many thousands of times as we've driven here and there over the years.

I wish I had done this in years past in the different places that we have lived. I don't have many photos of the every day street scenes in those places, and I wish I did.

Lovely Wife tends to believe in the "famous people die in threes" maxim.

I don't necessarily believe that one, but it is totally bizarre how I can write a post to be posted in a day or two, and then see someone else talk about that very subject on one of the blogs I read, before I post mine.

Over at Our Seven Qtpies, Qtpies7 talked about a German foreign exchange student that is staying with them.

I had written and slated this post to be on here today, and the other day she talked about how their visitor had never heard of "shotgun" before and how they had to explain it to him.

I guess great minds do work alike.


katherine. said...

when the kids were little the shouts of "shotgun" were loud and frequent.

Usually followed by:
"you had it last time"
"you did NOT,I called it FIRST"
"you can't call it until you're outside"
"get out of the seat..I CALLED shotgun"

I was thrilled when they each learned how to drive!

Travis said...

I remember my mom had made the front seat off limits to both my sister and I. Back in the era when kids roamed free in back seats, we didn't mind it so much.

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