The Debut of the Ouija Board
The modern Ouija board has been a welcome addition to the world of spirit-talkers since the 1800s. Considered dangerous by some, while just a party game to others, mortal man has been quite creative in devising tools to play with the dead since ancient times, and this is neither the first, nor the last.
The Dayton Daily Herald, April 27 1886
THE NEW TALKING BOARD
The Mysterious Amusement Which is Fascinating Ohio People
Many of our readers will still remember planchette, the strange little heart-shaped board with a pencil at its point which used to walk over yards of paper and write no end of nonsense if the finger tips of two persons touched the upper surface of the board.
Planchette had its day, and mostly died out. But the same mysterious force which used to impel it is moving now another kind of little board, and setting whole communities of eminently sober and respectable Ohio people on their heads.
You see how it is made. A bit of board, say 18 x 20 inches, is lettered, rather large, with the alphabet, A, B, C, D, etc. The letters are put a small distance apart. At the upper corners of the board are written the words: “yes” and “no,” the “yes” on the left, the “no” on the right. On the left and right hand lower corners respectively are written “good evening” and “good night.”
Underneath the letters of the alphabet are the figures in a row, the whole arranged like this:
Then a tiny table is made with four legs. It is three or four inches high and very thin and light. Two persons sit opposite each other and take the board upon their knees as in the picture. The little four-legged table is placed upon the board. The two persons grasp lightly with the thumb and forefinger the corners of the table that are next to them.
The two sit down and become quiet, asking the question: “Are there any communications?” After a few minutes the little table begins to move over the board. It is an intelligent, or at least, a semi-intelligent force that guides the table, for it answers questions. Sometimes it talks utter nonsense and again it will write real information. The table spells out sentences in this way. When a question is asked, the table moves towards the letters, and the foot stops upon the first one of the sentence to be written out. Then it passes to the next one and the next and so on with more or less rapidity.
A gentleman, who has experimented with the thing, says: “Sometimes the table will cover two letters with its feet and then you hang on and ask that the foot be moved from the wrong letter, which will be done.”
One man who thought his family was spending too much time over the talking machine burned it up. Then he left home on a journey. When the talking board could not be found some one made another, and the amusement went on as before. To the question what had become of the other board the answer was given, “Jack burned it up,” which somewhat astonished Jack on his return.
The questions may be asked mentally, even by persons sitting in the room several feet away from the operators, and the answers are given just as readily. In some cases remarkable and truthful revelations are said to have been given about living persons. But it is not well to give too much heed to these revelations.
Today, while it is well-known that the Ouija board is not an item to be trifled with, the board is still widely sold as a toy or game. In Sylvania, Ohio a group of teens gathered around a Ouija board in an old Main Street funeral parlor one night in the early 2000s. After a barrage of harmless questions, one of the teens asked what time the other members of their group would arrive. It was expected to be much later in the evening. The board immediately spelled out N-O-W, and while the laughter of the teens was still hanging in the air, the door to the room burst open and in walked the friends. Screams of terror filled the room and several young men and women fled, never to return to that building or speak of the event again. The confused friends who had just arrived did not believe when told, and most still do not believe today, that the Ouija board had just been asked of their arrival time.