The year was 1972. My parents had recently divorced and things were so different. No longer did we go to church four times a week. No longer, in fact, did I have a family. I and my brothers chose to stay with Dad and Mom moved out and was soon remarried.
That summer I had been mowing lawns for money and decided to blow a little of it at a local dime store. I chose to buy a Ouija Board. Mom would have gone ballistic, but Dad - although he chided me about it at first - was soon sitting across from me with the board on our knees and our fingers on the planchette. We had no Patience Worth breakthroughs, but we did have a lot of fun. (No doubt enhanced a bit for my dad by the alcohol he had "backslid" into after the divorce)
Now I had heard some gruesome tales about Ouija boards from my cousin. He said he "knew someone" who had one and used to use it with him. My cousin told me the words "Satan, come to me" were printed on the back. No only so, when that "someone" later decided to destroy his board, he broke it over his knee and watched amazed as smoke rose up (as Art Linkletter used to say, "kids say the damnedest things").
I couldn't buy all the wicked things I had heard and read about Ouija boards. After all, I bought it in the toy section. It was a toy, made by well known toy makers Parker Brothers. There were no chants directed at Satan on the thing. And I thought it was beautiful. But I did wonder who that William Fuld guy was who was touted on the box.
Interestingly, it was many years later that I was able to research about Fuld and the origins of the "talking board." He was a businessman and entrepreneur, not the occultist I had suspected he was.
Conservative Christians - and I suspect most conservative theistic folks - would probably think of the "mystifying oracle" as evil, or at least a part of the "dark side." And, strangely, William Fuld did meet a rather unfortunate end that some folks might think significant. The newspaper reported:
Baltimore - William Fuld, 54, toy manufacturer, and inventor of the Ouija board for "spirit communications," died Saturday afternoon from injuries suffered when he fell three stories from the roof of his toy factory.
Mr. Fuld was superintending the replacement of a worn-out flagpole. An iron support pulled from its moorings and Mr. Fuld toppled over backward.
He didn't die right away, but suffered a brain concussion, five broken ribs, broken legs and a broken arm. What a way to go. Sad, don't you think?
I later got rid of my Ouija board because I felt guilty about having it. I felt I might be dishonoring God. Years later I got another one and my then girlfriend and I "contacted" a spirit who identified itself as Diamond. That incident kind of freaked us both out a bit so I got rid of that one, too.
I've had more nightmares about demons in my lifetime than any other subject. I don't think of myself as superstitious, but I do find Ouija boards creepy. I don't think I ever see one that I don't think of "Captain Howdy" and the film The Exorcist. And I think of William Fuld, too.