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Flat Stanley’s Excellent Adventure or The Most Ridiculous Story Involving a 2nd Grade Class Project EVER

This is the story of Kyle’s Flat Stanley.

But first, some background. For those of you whom are unfamiliar with Flat Stanley, (as I was prior to my introduction to this tale,) it’s a project for school children to learn literacy and geography. It’s based on a book where some kid gets flattened or something. The concept is the teacher reads the book to the kids, then the kids get to decorate their own little Flat Stanley. (A paper man about 9′ high or so and wearing a tie. Because apparently Flat Stanley rocks the corporate casual.) Then the kids mail a letter to someone that includes their Flat Stanley and asks the recipient to treat Flat Stanley as a guest. They’re asked to keep a journal of all the places that Flat Stanley visits, and many include pictures of Flat Stanley in interesting places. Then the whole enchilada is mailed back to the kid. The class get to follow all the journeys that the Stanley’s go on, and learn about the places they visit. Most of the Flat Stanley’s go places like North Carolina to visit Grandma, or New York City to see the Statue of Liberty with a family friend. The luckiest of school children might have a Flat Stanley who visits the Eiffel Tower with a relative living overseas.

But not Kyle. Kyle’s Flat Stanley had a different kind of adventure awaiting him.

You see, it was 1993 when Kyle’s Flat Stanley went to Florida to visit Kyle’s Aunt Sandy.

Flat Stanley Visits Florida

Aunt Sandy was (and is) Kyle’s most favoritest aunt (and 20 years later, mine too,) and also was (and is) an Assistant US Attourny. This will become relevant later, I promise.

Flat Stanley’s adventure in Florida started out like that of most other Flat Stanli.

He learned a little about the geography of the place he was visiting.

2012-12-24 00.04.11

Text Reads-Day 1: Flat Stanley arrived in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Ponte Vedra is near Jacksonville, about 150 miles from where the shuttle takes off at Cape Canaveral in northwestern Florida. Ponte Vedra is on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.


He visited the beach and learned a little about its history.

Flat Stanley Visits the Beach

Text Reads-Flat Stanley went to Jacksonville Beach first. He thought he might like to take a swim, but was worried about becoming soggy. He decided to boogy board, instead. After that, Flat Stanley went to Mayport Naval Station, also in Jacksonville, and saw some big ships like the USS Saratoga. The Saratoga was one of the ships that took airplanes to Desert Storm. 


And he learned about some of the native animals of Florida.

Animals of Florida

Text ReadsDay 3: Florida has a lot of interesting animals.


And that’s when things got exciting.

Left to his own devices, Flat Stanley got bored and decided to commit credit card fraud. Because apparently that’s what you do when your host leaves you alone while they’re at work. And you’re a little paper man.

Flat Stanley Commits Credit Card Fraud

Text ReadsDay 4: Flat Stanley was left on his own in Ponte Vedra because Kyle Van Sandt’s aunt had to go to work. Flat Stanley decided he needed some money to see more of the sights so he borrowed Aunt Sandy’s ATM card and stopped at this Automatic Teller Machine. Sadly, he was unable to make a withdrawal. 


Unable to procure funds via the stolen credit card, Flat Stanley decided to turn up the heat by robbing a bank. We never learn how his plan goes awry, (maybe something related to the fact that he tried to hold up at bank with a Nerf dart gun,) only that shit went down and Stanley was arrested.

Flat Stanley Robs a Bank

Text ReadsFlat Stanley makes a more forceful withdrawal from the Atlantic National Bank. Unfortunately for Flat Stanley, he is soon apprehended.


Let’s just take a moment to recap what we just read.

Little 8 year old Kyle sent his class project to his aunt in Florida in order to learn more about geography, and his aunt takes his little paper dude and decides that he should rob a bank.

Is it any wonder Sandy’s my favorite aunt?


Anyhoo, after his arrest Flat Stanley was sent to jail to await his trial, where we can only imagine what horrors prison life held for a delicate guy like Stanley. I heard a guy tried to cut him. (Get it? Because he’s made of paper? Never mind….)

Flat Stanley is Imprisoned


Text Reads: Prisoners await their court appearances in this holding cell. Flat Stanley is given no special treatment.


As with all prisoners, Flat Stanley was booked. However, unlike all prisoners, Flat Stanley is fingerless. (Except that one guy, I think they call him Stubs.) So in the boxes reserved for his finger prints it was simply denoted “fingers missing.” Makes sense to me. I was also interested to learn that Stanley sometimes goes by the alias “Bugsy” and has an anchor tattooed on his shoulder hiding under that red long-sleeve.

Flat Stanley is Finger Printed

Text Reads: All prisoners are fingerprinted and photographed. Since Flat Stanley has no fingers, only his palm print was taken.


After a good sit in jail, (and I can only guess, a number of uncomfortable incidents involving some soap,) Stanley’s court date arrived and he appears before a judge. The US magistrate (since armed robbery is a federal offense, after all,) informs Stanley that if convicted, he can expect a $250,000 fine and 25 years of being somebody’s bitch.

Flat Stanley Appears Before a Federal Judge

Text Reads: Bank robbery is a federal crime. When someone commits a federal crime and is arrested, he or she must be taken promptly before a judge. Flat Stanley appeared before a United States magistrate judge, who advised Flat Stanley that armed bank robbery is punishable by 25 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

I would like to take another moment, if I may, to point out that the dude in the black robe in the picture? The one holding little Kyle’s Flat Stanley? Is an actual US magistrate. A real one. In front of whom actual bank robbers charged with actual armed robbery and spending actual time in actual federal-pound-me-in-the-ass prison appear every day. Remember when I said that Sandy is an Assistant US Attorney? Yeah, she got an actual judge to pose for a picture with a little paper dude, all in the name of her nephew’s 2nd grade project.

Total bad-ass.

Okay, so the next bit is Flat Stanley’s Indictment. Now, this is where my understanding of the legal system kinda falls off, having gleaned most of what I know about said system from watching Criminal Minds and prison shows, but according to the little blurb Sandy included an indictment is a statement written by a grand jury that a crime mostly likely happened and the accused most likely committed it. I’m not sure who the grand jury is, or exactly what part an Assistant US Attorney plays in the whole thing, but that’s not the important part. The important part is that if you zoom in on this picture enough so that you can read it, this  document sounds really fucking official. Like it was written by an Assistant US Attorney who regularly writes equally official documents to put drug king-pins or perpetrators of multi-million dollar mail fraud in federal prison.

Flat Stanley's Indictment

Text Reads: This is the indictment charging Flat Stanley, also known as “Bugsy,” with armed bank robbery. All felonies, this is crimes punishable by more than one year in jail, must start by an indictment decided by a group of people called a grand jury. The grand jury decides if it is more likely than not that a crime occurred and that the defendant committed it. 

I don’t think anyone will argue with me when I say Sandy doesn’t do anything halfway…


Before his trial, Flat Stanley managed to bust out of the big house. His means of escape are unknown, as are his current whereabouts, but citizens are advised that he is considered armed and dangerous. (We’re not really sure what he’s armed with either, but I betcha he could give a bitch a paper cut that  would sting like hell.)

Flat Stanley Escapes

Text Reads: Somehow, Flat Stanley escaped from jail. Perhaps he concealed himself in some outgoing mail. A warrant has been issued for his arrest. He also has been placed on the wanted list by the United States Marshal. (The Wanted Poster is included here for posting in Holiday Shores, in case Flat Stanley shows up there.)

Flat Stanley is considered armed and dangerous.

If you see him, do not approach him. Instead, report the sighting to the nearest police officer. Law enforcement officers are trained in safe and effective arrest techniques. (And in the case of Flat Stanley, they will promptly mail him back to the U.S. Marshal’s Service.)


And so ends the saga of Flat Stanley and his adventures in Florida. It almost wasn’t the ending; as it’s told, Sandy wanted to have Kyle’s Flat Stanley delivered to his class during the class presentations by a police officer. Which, come on, how hilarious would that have been? But the idea was kibashed because, according to Kyle, it would have scarred him. I couldn’t really get a full explanation out of him other than, “Because my Flat Stanley would be a bad person, therefore I would be a bad person. Yeah, I was a weird kid.” Ah, well. So here the story ends. Stanley is still at large, Kyle was only mildly traumatized, and the adults got (and still continue to get) a good laugh.

And Sandy’s title of Most Bad-Ass Aunt Ever was cemented permanently.

(Well, that, plus being an Assistant US Attorney. And all the marathons she’s run. A wicked sense of humor and deadly intelligence.  That time she got Janet Reno to dance around with a mop. The fact that she has attended an Inaugural Ball and road in Obama’s motorcade. Okay, so there’s a lot of reasons Sandy’s a bad-ass aunt, but let’s just say it started with Flat Stanley.)

Happy birthday, Sandy.

Happy birthday, Sandy.



{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Sandra Bower March 28, 2013, 3:17 pm

    Love it. Now that the FBI has nabbed Whitey Bulger, I understand that Flat Stanley has moved up to #1 on the Most Wanted list.
    Thank you so much for my birthday blog!

  • karen March 28, 2013, 7:32 pm

    Beautiful. Delightfully told. & I’m still laughing!

  • Kate March 30, 2013, 5:34 pm

    I didn’t hear about Flat Stanley until a few years ago, I had no idea he was around when I was a kid!

  • Jemma April 4, 2013, 4:51 am

    This is the first time I heard about Flat Stanley… I wish I had tried playing this game when I was a kid… 😉

  • Christine April 17, 2013, 8:43 am

    I’ve heard the story from you guys on more than one occasion, but to see it in print with all the documentation makes if fun all over again. Aunt Sandy rocks! (and I thought we were cool for taking Flat Stanley to a wedding).

  • Charm City Kim April 19, 2013, 11:38 am

    Will Aunt Sandy be my aunt? Or at least an aunt to my kids? That is one of the best stories I’ve ever read. I hope I can be the cool aunt someday.

    • Aunt Sandy April 24, 2013, 10:37 am

      Charm City Kim–Absolutely! But perhaps you should ask Kyle and Stephanie about his high school graduation extravaganza and their wedding toast before you invite me in as an honorary relative. There are certain crosses to bear….

  • Peggy July 22, 2015, 6:03 pm

    Loved the story! Your Aunt is indeed “bad-ass”. But make no mistake, Stanley is alive and well. He’s been hiding out in my basement for the past 7 months. Well, at least he was until the flood happened yesterday. Last I saw him, oh, about 10:30am, he had turned himself into a little paper canoe and was floating down 5th street. I did hear him saying though that he will NOT be taken alive. The “Big House” was just too much for the little guy I guess. Well, someday, he’ll get picked up working at a car wash or as a busboy in a diner. Until then, no one is safe from paper cuts.

  • Lisa Flaherty May 24, 2016, 9:37 am

    I will be laughing about this FOREVER!! 🙂

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