Flat Bella Visits Boston

In case you’re not familiar with Flat Stanely, the idea comes from a 1964 children’s book. In a nutshell, poor Stanley found himself flattened. But, then he discovered his flat shape allowed him to be mailed all over the world. Many schools have taken on the idea and have the kids mail Flat Stanley to friends and family who live far away. My niece Bella’s school has taken it one step further. The kids make flat versions of themselves to send out. Flat Bella was mailed from California to spend a little less than a week with me. Here’s what we did.


Dear Bella,

Whew! It’s been a busy week. Thanks so much for coming out and staying with me. I thought you might enjoy some pictures of our time together.


You arrived on Tuesday, and the first thing we had to do was make you a sweater! I know it’s probably warm in California by now, but spring hasn’t quite come to Boston yet. It’s a good thing you didn’t arrive a few weeks earlier. We would have needed to make you a jacket, a hat, a scarf, and some gloves.

I hope you like pink!

I work at a radio station called WBUR. My job is as a producer and reporter for sports radio show called Only A Game.

On Tuesday, my show interviewed a basketball player named Brittney Griner. Brittney was the top choice in the WNBA draft last year and she led her college team, Baylor University, to a championship in 2012. She’s a big deal.

She was in New York, so we were interviewing her over a special phone line between our studio in Boston and the NPR studio in New York. Because of the special phone line, interviews sound like both people are sitting in the same room. But, Brittney was a little late, stuck in traffic, so you kept our host, Bill Littlefield, company in the studio.




Once Brittney arrived, you and I moved into the control room. Our job was to listen for any mistakes, so they could be fixed. We use a microphone that speaks directly into Bill’s earphones, so that we can tell him what he should do. Sometimes he does everything just perfectly, so I don’t really have much to do. Those days I sometimes joke with him by yelling, “That was awful. Do it again!”


Of course, everyone who comes into the studio gets to get behind the microphone. You were so good! Have you done this before?




On Wednesday evenings, I go to class. I’m in a graduate program studying Gastronomy, which is just a fancy name for the study of food. It sounds like fun, but it’s really a whole lot of work. We arrived to class early, so I could get my laptop out and my notes open.




The best part of class is snack time! Our class runs from 6-9pm, so everyone is hungry. Each week, one or two of my classmates brings food for everyone to share. This time, Jane brought Armenian food!




We decided to have a little bit of everything. There was Armenian string cheese, cracker bread, eech (an Armenian salad with grains and herbs), and imam bayildi. Also, a two-bite brownie, which wasn’t Armenian at all.

You liked the bread and the string cheese. You weren’t so sure about the eech. But your favorite (other than the brownie!) was the imam bayildi. It’s made from eggplant and it’s name translates to “the priest wept!” It’s absolutely delicious.

On Thursday nights, I try to go to the gym with my friend, Erin. You decided to come with us!




You rode the stationary bike while Erin led me through a weights workout she had named, “The Bella Blast.” By the end, we were all sweaty and tired. Well, Erin and I were sweaty and tired. You still looked pretty good!




Friday was a busy day at work, so we didn’t have much energy left when we got home. We watched the movie, Frozen. I loved it!


Most of Saturday was spent doing homework, but we did make it out in time to meet Erin and some of my other girlfriends in downtown Boston. We knew it was going to be a long night, so we stopped at Starbucks first.




On the outside of Starbucks is a huge tea kettle, with “steam” coming out of the spout! This place wasn’t always a Starbucks. Back in 1873, the Oriental Tea Company built the tea kettle to advertise their business. They held a contest to see who could guess how much water would fit inside the kettle. More than 10,000 spectators came to watch as the kettle was filled and the water was measured. The kettle holds 227 gallons, 2 quarts, 1 pint, and 3 gills. Those who had guessed correctly each received 5 pounds of tea!




From Starbucks we walked down to Faneiul Hall. This place is even older the the tea kettle. It was built in 1742 and is sometimes called “the Cradle of Liberty.” Samuel Adams and James Otis gave some pretty famous speeches here back when Massachusetts was still a British colony. They thought the United States should be independent, and eventually that’s what happened.




There are lots of historic sites in downtown Boston. You can visit the cemetery where Mother Goose was buried, Paul Revere’s house, and the oldest commissioned warship in the world, the USS Constitution. All of these places are easy to find. All you have to do is follow the red line of bricks in the sidewalk called the Freedom Trail.




Faneiul Hall is still used for important meetings and political debates, but it’s also a marketplace with all sorts of fun and interesting things to buy. We decided that you needed a necklace to remember your time in Boston. This guy wrote your name in tiny little letters…on a piece of rice!



He also wrote “Boston 2014” on the back, so you’d always remember the trip. We picked out a pretty fish charm for your piece of rice. Be careful. It’s glass, so it can break!


After picking out your necklace, we headed into the North End for dinner. It’s the Italian section of town, and there are lots of good restaurants.




Along the way, you made a friend. Flat Stanley was visiting a woman who just happened to be coming out of a restaurant as we were walking by! She knew you two would be good friends, so she stopped us to say hello.




We also had to stop for a pretty view of the water at sunset. Look, Bella. Here you are at Boston Harbor! Back during revolutionary times, colonialists dumped 342 chests of tea in this harbor to protest British rule. I love tea, so I’ve always thought that was a little sad…




We were a little late for dinner, so we had to hurry. We had reservations at place called Nico. We had lobster ravioli, fried risotto, and tomatoes with mozzarella. Yum!



After dinner, we had to find dessert. Luckily, desert is easy to find in the North End. We went to Caffe Vittoria. It was getting late, so no espresso for you! Instead, you and I shared a steamed milk.

My friend, Tiffany, had a pastry called a Lobster Claw. It was huge! Both of you were pretty impressed!




We all agree that your visit has been great fun. I hope you enjoyed your time in Boston. Come back for another visit soon!




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