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September 9th 1944
The Baltimore Sun
(Copyright © Reprinted with permission from the Baltimore Sun)
By Amelia Muller
Miss Hoopes’ Ouija Board Serves Her As A ‘Tongue’
Sicty-five year old Gertrude Hoopes has found a new use for ouija boards, she used them to communicate not with spirits, but with fellow creatures of flesh and blood.
In recent years she has worn out three boards “talking” with persons who cannot understand the sign language she has been obliged to use since birth, when an injury produced a spastle condition preventing speech.
On her Ouija board, Mrs. Hoopes her manages her own household and attends to her own business affairs, spells out words to direct her maid
Peddles for Exercise
Physically the size of a girl of 12, she moves about on a tricycle, which she peddles onto the balcony of her apartment in the Homewood, Charles and 31st streets, for ex cerise, sunshine and fresh air.
A bright, cheerful woman despite her handicap. Miss Hoopes found great amusement some years ago when a newspaper writer, passing along Charles street and observing her on her balcony, described her as “a child on a tricycle going nowhere.”
“Little did he realize that even then I was an old dame.” she spelled out on the ouija board when recalling the incident.
In addition to her sign language and ouija boards, Miss Hoopes has devised a sport of manual shorthand: a brush of the hand across the forehand means “forg it.” a clapping of the hands means approval and fingers simulating the act of sprinkling means “more sugar.”
Six years ago she published her autobiography. “Out of the Running,” which she slowly typed out with two fingers.
Miss Hoopes loves to repeat one anecdote originally told in her autobiography. While on Charles street one afternoon she encountered Cardinal Gibbons, who shook her hand and inquired about her health.
Was ‘Holding Her Tongue’
When Cardinal released her hand, Miss Hoopes replied.
“I am sorry not to have answered immediately but your Eminence was holding my tongue.”
“I wish I could hold more women’s tongues,” the Cardinal returned.
Until she was 20, Miss Hoopes was able to walk with assistance, but after falling and dislocating her hip 45 years ago she has been able only t get on and off her tricycle without help.
Before the war she frequently attended concerts and theater but gasoline rationing has made it increasingly difficult for her to obtain taxicabs for such trips.
Reading and answering letters from person who have read her autobiography and written to her now occupy much of her time. Quite naturally, she is quite interested in books, relating to medicine, such as “The Jews and Medicine,” by Harry Friedenwald, of this city, which she is now reading.
At present, Miss Hoopes is deeply concerned as to how the public will treat handicapped soldiers after the war.
Hopes They Will Not Stare
“I do hoep people will not stare at the or proffer them unsolicited aid.” she said through her ouija board.
“Handicapped people want to live as normal lives as possible and do not want to be treated as persons apart. They want to do all they can by themselves. If they need help they will seek it.
“Too much assistance takes away independence. I, for example, have been managing my own apartment since the death of my sister, Dr. Fanny Hoopes, just to try myself out.
Thinks It Is Good
“Of course I have a maid and a companion, but I do my own managing and marketing and what any other person would do as head of the household. It is good for me.”
Miss Hoopes firmly believes that life has a meaning and a purpose no matter how unfortunately handicapped one might be.”
Persons who know her recommend visits to her in times of great trouble and grief. Visits with her, they say, always lighten up their sorrows.
As To Profanity
Miss Hoopes’ constant wit and good cheer are the reasons why. Asked if her ouija board were amenable to profanity, she replied:
“No, I have too good a vocabulary to use curse words. They are superfluous.”
A moment later she was asked whether the handicapped to her speech prevented rash or importunate remarks.
“No,” she answered. “You still can say what you damn please.”
[Excerpts from Miss Hoopes autobiography “Out of the Running,” are used with permission of the publisher, Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Ill.1]