Cootie catcher

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Tue Aug 8 17:22:53 UTC 2000

The reply below comes closest of any to answering the question in the
original query about what this device had to do with cooties.

I never heard "fortune teller" as a name for this device until this thread,
and I never saw that version of it.

My only encounter with it until now was as a kid in Southern California,
where you folded a piece of paper into the requisite shape, then drew spots
on four facets and left the other four blank.  You would open the device in
the direction that revealed the blank facets, then use it to scoop the
imagined cooties off the "mark" (I don't remember that it mattered where
you scooped) and open it to reveal the facets with the spots, showing him
all the cooties you had collected.

The response, of course, was an intrigued, "Hey, how did you make that
thing?"  And another cootie catcher would soon be in production.

Peter Mc.

--On Sun, Aug 6, 2000 10:42 PM -0700 Rudolph C Troike
<rtroike at U.ARIZONA.EDU> wrote:

> Just to contribute to the regional distribution of "cootie catcher", I can
> verify that the term was used in Brownsville, Texas schools in the early
> to mid 1940s. Mostly cooties were assumed to reside, presumably like lice,
> in the hair, so the head was the main target of the device, which had
> small circles and squiggles drawn in it for evidence that the effort had
> been successful.
>         Rudy

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at

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