Chinese Good Luck Charm


My maternal grandma came to the US after World War II from Germany. She settled in Chicago with my Serbian grandfather and very few belongings other than the clothes on their backs. As a result, they had no meaningful belongings that they could pass on. Ironically, my family’s heirloom came from a kind Chinese stranger who met my grandma as she anxiously awaited her driving road test in 1968. Everything in America was a new experience to my timid grandma but she knew that having children meant she would need to learn to drive. In fact, my grandma had never been behind the wheel of a car before my grandpa bought her a car for Christmas.  She received such a wonderful gift; however, she was upset. As my grandma awaited her test, a Chinese man approached her and in broken English told her to take his charm for good luck. He placed in her hand a tiny charm with Chinese characters and a chime inside, affixed to a thin braided cord. That day, my grandma, a horrible driver, passed her road test.  In fact, she received a near perfect score. From that point on, my grandma brought that charm whenever she needed some luck. Moreover, my grandma passed the charm on to my mom who is convinced that it helped her pass the NY state bar exam. Indeed, my mother so believed in the charm that she passed it on to me when I was stressed about making a select soccer team. To this day, I carry the charm with me whenever I need a little luck. It now has a perfect home in the pocket of my soccer bag.

Place(s): Germany, Serbia, Chicago, New York
Year: 1968

– Carly Bloom

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant