Honking Horns


Those calling the Isabela, Puerto Rico vicinity home may recall the horn honking patterns—so many toots and so many spaces identified individual drivers.

We lived almost across the street from Juan Mendez, a house or two north.  We hadn’t been there many days before I became aware of a correlation between cars and the honks—an audio ID, so to speak.  It wasn’t just in Isabela.  It was everywhere on the island.

Once, while chatting with our school teacher/landlord, Andrew, he announced the first name of the person passing by, and did so without so much as a glance toward Isabela Avenue.  I asked him how they always got the honk right.

He smiled and explained that the drivers replaced the horn button with a rotary telephone dial, wiring the appropriate contacts for the desired toots and spaces.

As they approached a friend’s house they simply dialed zero and the honk was always the same.


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