August 2019
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Flat Stanley, Matchmaker

Once upon a time an author by the name of Jeff Brown was putting his young sons to bed.  One of the boys was reluctant to go to sleep and kept talking, trying to put off the inevitable, until he said he was afraid the big bulletin board beside his bed was going to fall on him.  Jeff reassured him that he was safe.  Then on his way out the door, Jeff added, “Of course, if the bulletin board did fall on you, you would be squashed flat as a pancake.”

The boys giggled at the idea, and for the next several nights Jeff and his sons told stories about what it would be like to be flat.  One really great benefit?  If you were flat, you could be rolled up and mailed to different places to go on amazing adventures!  Jeff ended up putting the stories into a series of books—and so Flat Stanley was born.

Teachers from many countries read the stories to their classes and had the students make Flat Stanley paper dolls to send all over the world for adventures of their own.  The students wrote letters and asked people to take Flat Stanley to work or a noteworthy location, take pictures, write about Flat Stanley’s adventures, and mail the doll, letter, and pictures back to the class.

Meanwhile, back in California, my mom was still on her own, as she had been for about 30 years.  For about 40 years she and Clare Keeney had attended the same church, but they didn’t really know each other.  Clare’s wife always wanted to leave as soon as the service was over while my mom regularly hung around talking until the janitor handed her the keys to lock the place up.  But, after a long illness, Clare’s wife died.

Among his many other talents, Clare tunes pianos.  Mom asked him to tune her piano.  He did.  She took him out to dinner along with some other friends.  They all had a fine time.  And that, my mom thought, was that.

I have one girl cousin, and she and her husband have five children.  They live on a farm in Illinois.  The kids sent Flat Stanley to Aunt Marilyn, asking her to take him to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Honestly, my mom wasn’t all that excited about going.  The Golden Gate is more than an hour’s drive each way through city traffic.  But Mom taught school before she retired, so this wasn’t a request she could easily turn down.  She was grumbling, though, not looking forward to the trip.

Then she saw Clare at a class at church.  She thought to herself, I wonder if he would go with me on my Flat Stanley adventure?  She asked Clare, and he said he thought it sounded like fun.  They went to the Golden Gate Bridge and took pictures.  Then they went to lunch in Sausalito.  They talked and laughed all the way up and all the way back.

And they’ve been together ever since.
On March 27, 2004, Marilyn Allen and Clare Keeney got married.

Flat Stanley came to the wedding.  While he flew into town in casual clothes, he brought a tux that he wore to the ceremony.  He also brought a friend with him.  The friend didn’t come to the wedding, though.  He stayed at home and read a book.

Flat Stanley, I presume.

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