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The internet helps crack code left in grandmother's note

The Sideshow

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Front of card (imgur)

Everybody likes a good mystery. So when a user of popular message board Ask MetaFilter named JannaK asked for help in decoding a seemingly nonsensical note written by the poster's late grandmother, others were more than happy to assist.

We first saw the story at On the Media, which notes that in a matter of minutes, the Ask MetaFilter community had partly decoded the message.

The original post from JannaK explains the note's backstory.

From Ask MetaFilter:

My grandmother passed away in 1994 of a fast-spreading cancer. She was non-communicative her last two weeks, but in that time, she left at least 20 index cards with scribbled letters on them. My cousins and I were between 8-10 years old at the time, and believed she was leaving us a code. We puzzled over them for a few months trying substitution ciphers, and didn't get anywhere.

My father found one of the cards the other day and I love puzzles and want to tackle the mystery again. Based on some of the repeating segments (many lines start with PST, many end with PAGA, and TYAGF repeats often at the end), I'm thinking they may be song lyrics. She inserts lots of backwards commas, and strange breaks at various points that could indicate stanzas. The back of the card has two numbered lines that contain the same letters. The letters (with line breaks to match the card) and images of the cards are below.

Here's the back of the card, also posted at Ask MetaFilter:

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Back of card (Imgur)

Take a few minutes and give the cards a look. Anything jump out? Some letters did to user harperpitt, who posted this to Ask MetaFilter.

Was she a religious woman? The last As, as well as the AAA combo, make me think of "Amen, amen, amen." So extrapolating -- TYAGF = "Thank you Almighty God for..."

It would make sense to end with "Thank you, Almighty God, for everything, Amen - Thank you, Almighty God, for everything, Amen, Amen, Amen."

JannaK quickly responded, thanking harperpitt for the amazing effort and writing, "Holy cow! 14 minutes to solve the back of the card that has been bugging my family for 20 years! That is amazing!"

Indeed it is. And the help kept coming. Another commenter pointed out that the letters "PSTWA" tend to repeat themselves and speculated that they might stand for "Please see that we all..."

But there is still a lot more to be decoded. Want to lend a hand? Check out the original post here.

Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).

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