Flat Stanley arrived at Polly’s house in Indianapolis, Indiana on Friday, October 29, 2021. He was sent from Polly’s Florida family in Lake Placid to see what life is like in Indiana.
Flat Stanley went right from the mailbox into Polly’s car for a trip to Elan Furs. Polly has a friend who works there who was born in Greece. Greece is a country in Europe. His name is Sotiri. He has spent his entire life in the fur business in Greece and then later moved to the United States. He took a fur vest that Polly had and made it into a coat with leather and snake skin. Flat Stanley got to go into the studio where the coats were being made. Polly has waited an entire year for this coat to be ready. Sotiri made a trip back to Greece in September in order to find just the right color and style of leather for this coat.
On Saturday, October 30th, Polly and Flat Stanley went to Bloomington Indiana. This is an hour drive south of Indianapolis where Indiana University is located. Polly took Flat Stanley to visit her friends who are from Hungary which is in Europe. Flat Stanley wore a tie that represented the flag of Hungary.
Polly’s friend is Erzsebet and she is a world renown harpist. She has performed all over the world and she gives harp lessons all over the world using modern technology.
Polly has a young friend named Bethany who lives in Avon Park, FL and Polly introduced Bethany to Dr. Erzsebet Rinne and Bethany has been taking harp lessons from Dr. Rinne for the last three years. In 2019 Bethany came to stay with Polly much like Flat Stanley is and she attended the International Harp Competition held in Bloomington.
Erzsebet’s mother is also named Erzsebet. She only speaks Hungarian and Polly and Flat Stanley only speak English so they had to have their
conversation translated. Flat Stanley and Polly stopped by the Farmer’s Market and picked up some Fall flowers for Mama
and daughter Erzsebet.
Polly had cooked some soups and was sharing those with her friends. Erzsebet has two harps and a grand piano in her home studio where she gives lessons to young people all over the world. She gave us a beautiful serenade on the harp and we felt like we were in Heaven. If you would like to learn the harp, Polly can connect you.
On Sunday, October 31st, Polly and Flat Stanley had a little rest. We built a big fire in the fireplace because it was cold weather. The trees are turning their Fall colors and the air is brisk. The temperature was 47 degrees. We needed a warm jacket to go outside. We read our Bible and we said prayers for all our friends. No tie for Flat Stanley
The first of November brought greetings from my refugee family in Africa. I met them four years ago when Jerry (the Dad) reached out to me on Facebook asking if I would consider writing stories about the young people who were refugees. A refugee is a person who has no home, who has been run out of his country due to horrible violence and torture. In the case of Jerry, he lived a very comfortable life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is a land rich in gold and minerals below the earth. Some very evil and greedy people took over the country and threatened the people who lived there. They burned down Jerry’s family home and they killed Jerry’s parents after torturing them.
Jerry escaped with the clothes on his back and made his way to Uganda, a neighboring country in Africa. He started his life in a foreign land with nothing and no one except his belief in Jesus Christ. Over the last 13 years in exile, Jerry got married and had a family of his own. David is the oldest, followed by Hope and then Joseph and the youngest is Anna. They all send you greetings and are working on some Flat Stanley activities to share with you.
David writes: “I love the way I painted him all his fare because on my birthday, everyone mum, Florence, Emmy, Hope, Joseph and all my friends placed icing sugar on my face and that was my perfect birthday. That was my former school uniform and I loved it a lot because it used to make me smart. I made him put on like that because that how I designed myself when we went outing.”
Hope writes: “Fat Stanley doing simple activity in Africa. He works in a factory as a manager that is why Fat Stanley chose to wear a gentlemen’s outfit. I chose to design him like this because I love our school uniform and our school is called Landmark Junior School. I chose to make him a pink outfit because I love wearing pink and then for my birthday I made him to wear that because I love my clothes color to match with my cake.”
Life is very hard for them. They have a one pot meal of beans each day. They cook over a charcoal fire. They do laundry in a tub and hang it on a line to dry. They do not have a car and they barely have a roof over their heads. The children have had no school in the last two years thanks to Covid and a very strict dictatorship government, the refugee people are literally starving due to the terrible conditions. No one cares for the refugee. They have tried for the last 13 years to immigrate to the United States. Freedom and opportunity is their number one dream. I have financially supported them for the last few years with the help of a friend who is originally from Communist China. This is Doctor Ping. He is a math teacher and a pastor. He helped Jerry to open a school to help the refugee children to learn. His church provided the beautiful shirts the children are wearing which has the name of the school on them.
Flat Stanley helped Polly work on the Winter Wonderland she is creating in her basement. She loves Christmas and wants all her favorite things displayed year-round. We started with covering up an ugly ceiling by putting up netting and filling it with snow. McCoy’s grandmother, Donna Pollard really needs to be here for this project as she is very creative with these sorts of projects.
Polly was looking for a few additional decorations to round out her Winter Wonderland. We made a road trip to Bedford, Indiana. Bedford is home to the world’s supply of limestone. Limestone is used to build amazing buildings like the Empire State Building and many public libraries and court houses. Bedford is about an hour and 15 minutes from Polly’s house. Flat Stanley enjoyed seeing the landscape of Indiana change from being flat in Indianapolis (the center and the state capital) and it became woodsy with rolling hills the further south we went.
We stopped by the 12 Months of Christmas. Flat Stanley met Pat who created the store of three levels of nothing but Christmas. She is now in her 70s and she said after 20 years in business, this is her last year. We said goodbye and wished her well in her retirement.
Flat Stanley got to meet Polly’s grand-daughter Natalie who she adopted when Natalie was 2. Polly met her family at church. Natalie was turning 11 and she has a sister Noelle who just turned 17. We will see Noelle as she is now driving and she got her first job at Chick-Fil-A. We picked up Natalie for a birthday adventure. She loves to go to tea rooms and have high tea. This is a prim and proper meal featuring several types of tea, finger sandwiches, soup and sweet treats. This is our fourth year of discovering tea rooms. We went to the Rustic Root in a little town of Beech Grove. We had a lovely meal and Natalie knew all about scones and clotted cream. Flat Stanley asked her how she knew about things like this. Natalie told him Polly had given her a book of high tea etiquette and she learned all about the origins of tea parties.
We went shopping in rock stores, antique stores and consignment shops. We had a ball and stopped for hot chocolate as a final sweet ending to a wonderful day.
Polly and Natalie and Flat Stanley were off celebrating, Natalie’s sister
Noelle went to work at Chick-Fil-A. Noelle took Flat Stanley with her in the car and taught him a little about driving since she had just gotten her driver’s license. Once at work, Flat Stanley learned how to make chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.
As Polly was dropping Natalie off, she got a text from her Greek friend Sotiri inviting her to a fashion show which featured original local clothes designers and ended the event with a finale of a runway full of models both male and female wearing fur coats from Elan Fur Salon where Polly’s coats were made. There were about thirty fur coats and we needed security due to the value of these furs. A pretty lady was our undercover police officer. Under her bulky sweater, she wore two high powered guns. We were very safe. Did you know that even men wear fur coats? There is not much of a need for a fur coat in Florida, but in Indiana, it gets to below zero and you are thankful for a warm fur coat.
On November 13th, my African family sent pictures of Joseph celebrating his 5th birthday. It is a HUGE treat to get a birthday cake and soft drinks. They invite friends from their compound and they celebrate with tons of sugar. Each grandchild and Jerry and his wife each get a cake for their special day from Mom/Grandma in the US.
Polly lives in a neighborhood which has become home to the largest population of Burmese immigrants in the world outside of Burma which is in Asia. Burma is now called Myanmar and it is a war-torn area that has resulted in a huge number of refugees much like the situation in Africa. Polly got a new next-door neighbor who is a former refugee from Burma. His name is Than. He is 45 years old. He lived the first 16 years of his life in desperate straits in much war and violence. He was able to move to Thailand but life was not much better for the next 13 years. He waited all these years to get freedom to immigrate to the United States. He has become a US citizen in the 10 years he has been here. He works at Panda Express, a Chinese fast- food restaurant. Polly is helping him to learn about home ownership.
Than bought the house with a childhood friend named Mee. Polly learned that Mee was a traveling sushi chef. She works seven days a week on the east coast of the United States. She is 52. The company provides her with a car and a hotel and she works all the time. She got to spend three weeks in her new home while Flat Stanley visited. We had Than and Mee over and introduced them to a holiday favorite which is a pumpkin roll. Polly’s sister makes these every year to give to friends at Christmas. Than and Mee do not celebrate Christmas (the birth of Jesus Christ) because they are of the Buddhist religion. They had no problem enjoying the pumpkin roll! Than and Mee have lived a very hard life. They never had the opportunity to get married or have children. In their older age, they rely on each other to afford a home that they can retire to. They told Flat Stanley they are very grateful to Americans who accept them and welcome them. Polly told Flat Stanley that refugees just seem to find her and that what she has learned is that all people are the same. They want to be loved, they want to provide for their family and they want to live in peace and harmony. The only way they are different is perhaps in their skin color and with their accents. Their heart beats the same as any other human.
The next day Polly introduced Flat Stanley to her friends who are from India. They wanted a better life and immigrated to the US for better opportunity. They are of the Sikh religion. They are an older couple who recently got married. It is the culture in India for the parents to arrange for the marriage. Parvinder is the man and Jashleen in the woman. They have an eight-month-old boy called Aad. They made Polly an honorary grandmother. Polly seems to have many grandchildren from all around the world. Flat Stanley said it seems that God kept Polly single and without children of her own so she could become a mom and grandmom to those who needed her most.
Flat Stanley was introduced to Indian food. We had a spinach dish with spicy onions and a curry that had fried vegetables in it called Pakora. We had naan bread, rice and rice pudding for dessert.
The grand finale of Flat Stanley’s visit with Polly came over Thanksgiving. It was Polly’s 65th birthday and she visits a grand resort called French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs in southern Indiana each year for her birthday. These are two majestic hundred-year-old hotels which have been restored to their perfection. The world’s elite used to arrive from all over the world particularly by train as the train ran right to the entrance to the hotels. The hotels were known for their mineral springs which promoted good health. There is a spa in each of the hotels along with fine dining.
The West Baden Springs Hotel is called the 8th wonder of the world. When the original hotel burned to the ground, it was rebuilt with a free-standing dome that had never existed in architecture. It is a magnificently beautiful structure. At night the dome colors change.
During the day, Polly set up her creative studio in the atrium so she could write this story. She sent Flat Stanley on a tour of each hotel to learn about the incredible history. Each night they had a wonderful meal in the 1875 Steakhouse named after the first Kentucky Derby. Polly seems to know everyone and they all knew that I was her special guest. She explained to me how the hotel recruited workers from Jamaica and once they arrived, they stayed and have been serving in every capacity in the hotels for the last twenty years.
On Thanksgiving we had an amazing dinner in the atrium under the dome and took a carriage ride to see the beautiful Christmas lights. This has been a trip to remember. I can’t get over how many friends Polly has from all over the world. It was great to learn about all the different cultures.
It was an honor to be asked to host Flat Stanley and introduce my Florida family to some of the things that go on in Indiana.
I am a storyteller writing under the name of G. Polly Jordan and I love meeting poeple from around the world.
It was once prophesied that I would have aministry comprised of brown-skinned children being both mother and grandmother to those who needed me most. Seems to have come to pass.