03/18/1985 at 01:00 AM EST
The great Houdini is supposed to have carried one during his amazing escape acts. Dorothy Hamill was known to wear one when she skated in competition. The four-leaf clover has long enjoyed a reputation as a good-luck symbol in Irish folklore. Faith and begorra, the little green leaf is even said to be capable of floating magically upstream against the current. However, as most of us know, finding a four-leafer in a patch of grass can lead to a bad case of eye and back strain.
Andrew and Andrea Safko are one farsighted Florida couple who don't have that problem. They're the owners of what is probably the only four-leaf clover farm in the U.S. As Saint Patrick's Day approaches, the Safkos have been busily shipping four-leaf clovers encased in plastic wallet calendars, money clips and bookmarks—as well as clover in the raw—to clients as far away as Japan and Zimbabwe. On their 11,000 square-foot St. Petersburg "farm," the Clover Specialty Company, Andy, 42, and Andrea ("Dandy"), 40, grow roughly 10 million clover plants a year, 20 percent of which are the four-leaf variety. The Safkos produce three-and five-leafers as well. "Some people think if four-leafs are lucky," says Andrea, "five-leafs are even luckier."
Maybe. But if a frost strikes their clover, the Safkos might well wonder what the leprechauns are up to. After all, the luck associated with their product can be seen as double-edged: Legend has it that Eve was clutching a four-leaf clover when she was banished from the Garden of Eden.