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Ouija-Board Tales 

Real or fantasy? Read these stories and decide for yourself. 

By Brian Alexander
Candles on a spiral staircaseSusie Cushner
  • British novelist Arthur Henry Sarsfield Wade (or Ward), better known as Sax Rohmer, consults a Ouija board sometime around 1910. The board spells out “Chinaman,” and the character of master villain Dr. Fu Manchu is born, launching a series of books and films.
  • In 1913 Mrs. John H. Curran of St. Louis uses a Ouija board and receives a message: “Many moons ago I lived. Again I come. Patience Worth my name.” Patience Worth is said to be a writer from the Elizabethan era who communicates with Curran, dictating stories, poems, and plays. The works are published, and in 1916 the New York Times declares them “tipped with the flame of genius.”
  • El Cerrito, California, is hit by a “wave of insanity” during a months-long Ouija fad in 1920. Several residents are sent to asylums.
  • In 1935 a Ouija board reveals to Kansas City housewife Nellie Hurd that her husband Herbert has a girlfriend, which Herbert denies. Nellie allegedly begins abusing Herbert and is shot dead. Herbert says the gun went off accidentally.
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