How to Save a City from Measles

The Puzzler

RAY: This puzzler is historic, folkloric, biographic, authentic-- and only slightly pathetic.

I get the feeling that people get despondent and disheartened, because they send a puzzler to me and I don't use it. They think, "He doesn't care." Well, I want you to know that the puzzler we're using today was sent in by a fellow named Marty Trope -- in 1994.

TOM: He could be dead now!

RAY: It took me that long to obfuscate it. Here it is.

The year was 1962. New York City was in the grip of a measles epidemic. City officials were getting nervous. It seemed like New Yorkers weren't taking it seriously.

But, people needed to know who needed to be vaccinated and why, and, moreover, they needed to know where the vaccine was available and who was eligible. There was a lot of information that needed to be disseminated.

The public health service people were getting discouraged as the epidemic spread. Something had to be done. A meeting was called. Various strategies were presented. Finally, out of the inky shadows, emerged Edmund J. Potas, Senior Public Health Advisor.

"I have an idea," he said. He suggested a form of mass communication that had never been used before. It was a success. And this method has been used countless times ever since.

What did he suggest that day? And here's a hint: "measles."

Think you know? Drop Ray a note!

[ Car Talk Puzzler ]

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