Bye Bye Bertha.

The Puzzler

RAY: Aunt Bertha died of a rare disease called... old age. Starting in 1952, the Bureau of Health Statistics, which is part of the CDC, decided that you couldn't just die of old age, you had to have a reason, like you fell on your knitting needles, got hit by a bread truck, or something like that. I think they listed 130 official reasons for death.

TOM: That was better than old age?

RAY: Exactly. They wanted everyone to be pigeon-holed. So Aunt Bertha, because she died a week after Christmas, she could have died like at 11:59 on New Year's Eve. She could have been the last person in 1951 to die of old age.

TOM: What do you do, pick something out of a hat?

RAY: Yeah. In fact when you're about 75 they send you a flier: Please pick a cause of death from the list below. Do we have a winner?

TOM: We certainly do. The winner this week is Dan Cooper from Larkspur, California. And for having his answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Dan gets a 26-dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at, which he can use to get our new deck of Puzzler cards. These are 75 colorful, oversized cards with a Car Talk puzzler on each one, perfect for those long trips in the car or for shimming up wobbly tables.

[ Car Talk Puzzler ]

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