We always had dinner and family prayer together in the evenings and with the great number of children that could be scattered in any number of locations around the neighborhood after school or on summer afternoons, Dad and Mom grew weary of trying to track us down at dinnertime. This problem was solved by Dad’s acquisition of what at first looked like an overgrown bicycle pump with a Mack-truck horn attached. We soon learned that it was a fog horn from a ship that Dad had purchased from the Army/Navy supply store.
The contraption was mounted with wire against the four-by-four post that supported the roof over the back patio. Upon hearing it for the first time we were astounded by the strength of the piercing sound. It wailed with a deafening bass pitch that lasted as long as it took to force the plunger back down to the pump cylinder.
It was understood that whenever we heard the blast of the horn, we were to come directly home.
“Wah-h-h-h-h-h” would sound out from the direction of our house and we would stop to listen. How could it be time already?
“Wah-h-h-h-h-h,” and the second blast served as confirmation and a third blast was usually made for good measure. If one of the younger children carrying out the assignment we might hear, “Wah-h. Wah-h-h. Wah,” as either the plunger was too hard to press forcefully or a moment’s entertainment was being had on the instrument. Everyone in the neighborhood new the meaning of the blast and would offer prod us along if we hesitated too long after the horn’s announcement.