Fortunes Good And Bad

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I especially enjoyed your column “History Now: Who Invented the Fortune Cookie?” (February/March 2005). In the spring of 1972 my parents and I went to a local Chinese restaurant in North Leominster, Massachusetts. My fortune that night read, “The position you desire will soon be yours.” I was a 26-year-old college senior and Marine Vietnam vet, and I was seeking a job that everyone considered a hopeless quest. But in November of that year I defeated the incumbent Democratic state senator by 9 votes out of 60,000 cast, becoming the first Republican to win that seat since 1938. I still have that fortune in a scrapbook.

Years later I was at a fundraiser for a colleague I admired, Sen. Allan McKinnon, a Democrat (Massachusetts politics were not as partisan at that time as Washington is today). On each table was a bowl of fortune cookies containing anti-McKinnon slogans. They had been placed there by his Republican opponent. Dumb move. They inspired McKinnon’s supporters to greater efforts, and Allan won handily. I figure fortune cookies are accurate only if you don’t try to fiddle the results!