When I was a missionary in Russia more than a decade ago, I once got a very special envelope. It came from my college rowing coach’s daughter, who had read a Flat Stanley book with her class in school and received the assignment to send her very own Flat Stanley to some far-off place. My companion and I showed Flat Stanley around Moscow, then sent him back along with pictures and a couple of souvenirs (although empty candy wrappers might not have been as cool as I thought they were). Ever since then, I’ve loved the idea of Flat Stanley and hoped for another chance to host him.
One of Jenny’s high school friends that we visited while in Utah a few months ago has children in elementary school, and one of them recently received a Flat Stanley assignment. Our name must have come to mind because we had just visited, and they sent him to us for a visit. I certainly don’t consider Maryland to be nearly as exotic a place as Moscow, but we were given specific instructions that Flat Stanley wanted to see the water. One Friday in March, Jenny and I went to Annapolis for a dinner date and took Flat Stanley with us.
We showed him the State House, which is one of only a few locations that has served as the Capitol of the United States, then went down to the waterfront and took his picture with some boats. There was even a boat that had Stanley in its name, so we took a close up of that one. We ate dinner at Chick and Ruth’s Delly, a local greasy spoon that serves a three pound burger and six pound milkshake and has named most of the sandwiches on its menu after famous Maryland politicians, and liked it so much that we took a picture of Flat Stanley there too. Flat Stanley did not get to eat any of the yummy chocolate dipped marshmallows that we had for dessert.
The following weekend we took Flat Stanley to Fort McHenry for a final adventure with us before he had to go home. It was a beautiful spring morning, and the Fort has been well-preserved and seen significant upgrades since I was a boy, the last time I visited. Elena loved the movie at the visitor’s center that depicted the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. Ever since then, she excitedly points out the American Flags she sees wherever we go. We learned even more during a flag talk inside the star fort proper. A large group of Boy Scouts were visiting, so one of the park’s volunteer docents had everyone stand around and hold a flag as large as the original star spangled banner while he gave a talk. Elena and Roman eventually got bored, so they and I went to see the ramparts and take more pictures with Flat Stanley. We all enjoyed the beautiful views of the Inner Harbor, where Roman could show us all the boats and Elena could find all the American flags. I think we sent Flat Stanley home on a good note.