Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Jul 6 19:37:22 UTC 2009

At 7/6/2009 11:33 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>Yes, that sounds right to me as well, and there was a chant that
>accompanied the manipulation of the device.  It would also tell you
>your (or whoever's) favorite color and other such information.
>Fortunes were part of it, but not cooties.  If they were (sometimes?)
>called "cootie catchers" (Jon's "fortune cookies" does ring a distant
>bell) I probably processed it as an opaque label, and certainly
>didn't make any connection with lice.  As I mentioned earlier, I
>never thought of a cootie in the singular; cooties in the plural were
>as abstract as the willies or the creeps.  IIRC.

Quite the contrary for me (NYC).  I have no memories of
fortune-telling by "cootie-catchers", only of cootie-catching and
application to the top of one's head.

Geoffrey S. Nathan wrote:
>And, of course, everything in the universe is now available at Wikipedia:
>(and it's just as I also remember it, growing up in the
>fifties/sixties in Toronto--a fortune-telling device).

My cootie-catcher is probably a decade earlier, depending on exactly
when Geoff means.

I have seen the fortune-teller, at some unknown time in the past, but
not called a "cootie-catcher".  I note that Wikipedia claims that as
an alternate name, but does not explain it.  There is only the one
reference, 'In The Simpsons episode "Tennis the Menace", Homer uses a
cootie catcher to test if he has cooties. He then exclaims "wow this
self-testing kit has saved me a fortune!"'


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