The experiences I am about to relate, happened a long time ago and are seen through the eyes of a naïve 11 year old boy. In my attempt to stick to the truth, there may be parts that are vague, please just put this down to father time defeating my old memory.
I am the 11 year old, with two brothers (Bro-P and Bro-A) being five and six years older, my mother (the lady of the manor) and my father (the muscle behind the lady).
On Christmas day, we are all bundled into the family car and make the journey to the 'Wild, Wild West' of Sydney, to spend the day with all our cousins. We would open our presents, do the occasional swap, have Christmas Dinner, say our goodbyes and head home.
The Christmas of 1968 was different. Bro-P cautiously picked up a present from one of our uncles, he carefully unwrapped his present, took one look at the cover on the box and quickly wrapped it back up. This was unusual as all presents had that 'pesky' wrapping paper ripped off and the presents laid bare for all to see.
The present was to remain a mystery from me for days, until I tried to get into our bedroom and found the door locked from the inside. I banged on the door and told the intruders to let me in. My demands were met with a few 'Bugger Offs' mixed with 'Go and play on the road'. I countered with 'I'm going to get Dad' which always did the trick. The door was opened, Bro-A dragged me into the room and sat me down next to Bro-P.
The mystery was solved (or was it?), there before me was a 'Parker Brothers' board - it had been folded out, was a light sandy colour, old fashioned shiny letters and a plastic heart shaped 'pointer'. I asked my brothers 'Where are the Dice?' to which they laughed and said it was an Ouija Board.
My two brothers put their index fingers on the pointer and told me to gently do the same. As soon as my finger touched the pointer, it moved and started going from letter to letter and then pause. Bro-A stated the word it had just spelt and the pointer moved on. As the session went on, my panic levels started to rise. It was describing an argument I had with the school bully which ended with me getting a broken nose and (WHAT!) the bully walking away untouched. At this point my finger came off the pointer and I yelled at whatever was telling the story to get their facts straight (I gave the bully a nice black eye for his efforts).
I stormed out of my own bedroom accompanied by the laughter of my two brothers. I went out into the backyard to cool off and saw my dad raking up grass clippings and putting them in the 'furnace' to be burnt off later. He came over to me and asked 'What's wrong?' I told him that there seemed to be another story circulating about my meeting with the school bully. The next question seemed innocent enough. 'When did you hear this?' I replied 'Oh just then'. He stumped off back into the house and it remained remarkably quiet for some time.
I knew something was not right. Dad's face told me he was angry. If dad got angry, there would be tiles flying off our roof and bricks falling out of the walls but the house remained silent and undamaged. I figured that I hadn't 'dobbed anyone in' after all. However, dinner that night was a very quiet affair, with the end being signalled by mum instructing us 'boys' to play in the bedroom, while she had a talk to dad.
This was getting scary; I trudged into my bedroom and was ordered to sit down by my brothers. The Ouija Board was laid out as before but this time I was seated on the outside. This arrangement did not last long, the door opened and dad stepped in and sat down next to me.
'I'm joining in this time', he announced. I looked at the faces in the room. Bro-P had a stunned look on his face, Bro-A was smiling at dad and dad was grinning at Bro-A. Something was up but I felt secure sitting next to dad so I just stared at the board.
Dad's attention now turned to Bro-P. 'Read the instructions out loud and don't miss anything' to which Bro-P sullenly complied. Apart from finding out that the pointer was called a 'planchette', the instructions sounded like a load of hocus pocus and I started to lose interest in the whole concept. Words became a blur as I went from boredom towards sleep.
I was literally jolted out of this state when the planchette started to move, I realised that somehow my finger was connected to this thing, again. It felt totally different this time, both speed wise and lightness of movement. Dad and Bro-A were working together to tell the story of a girl that Bro-P had known before she had passed away in a car accident. Bro-P had not treated her well and it appeared that she was determined to tell us her story in detail.
The planchette moved back to the spot where it started and dad mumbled something like 'I release you from this world'. He then stood up, ordered that the board and all other parts be put back in the box, which he then confiscated and took a step out the door.
He stopped, looked at me and said 'Well, come on, we've got things to do'. I was up in a flash and following dad out into the backyard. We passed mum who asked 'Is everything now fixed?' Dad said that we'd have to see 'The Reverend' on Sunday but that was ok.
We were able to navigate the backyard in the dark by the glow coming from the furnace. Dad must have started burning the grass clippings before dinner. The box was dropped straight into the flames and that was the end of the Ouija Board but not the lesson.
While the flames devoured the board, dad laid open as much of the events as he dared.
The modified story of my altercation with the school bully was devised and carried out by Bro-P (the Prankster) on the board, just for a laugh at my expense. Tonight was different, whatever had control of the planchette intended to punish the Prankster and succeeded.
He asked me what I thought of 'the spook' tonight. I told him that she made me sad and I hoped she was now at peace. He looked at me for a long time and then told me the moral of tonight's episode - 'Don't go fooling around with things that can be bigger, meaner and more powerful than you could possibly imagine'.
He also told me that I could go down the beach with Bro-A on Sunday while he took the Prankster to see 'The Reverend'. Wow, he really was going to see someone big, mean and powerful (times two).