The story of the Stanleys actually begins years ago, decades really, in a small town along the US-Canadian border known by its inhabitants simply as “here” (outsiders know it better as Walmud, New York). It was here that LaMont Sanford Stanley and Leighanne Santana Derr met and fell in love. They were small town folks living in a small town doing small town things and happy to do so. Little did they know that, just a few short years after meeting, they would gain worldwide attention.
After a short and heated courtship, Leighanne and LaMont tied the knot and, as they say, got “busy” making babies. Within a few months, Leighanne was impregnated with twins, the soon to be Lee and Stan Stanley. These were no ordinary twins, however. Lee and Stan Stanley brought the Stanley family into the worldwide public eye for being world’s first fraternal conjoined twins. To this day, nobody really knows where they were attached. LaMont was so ashamed of his “stuck together” kids, that he wouldn’t allow them to be seen or photographed by anyone. There have been those that have made mention of Lee and Stan “sharing a brain”, but it’s not known if that is meant in the literal sense or as a figure of speech.
Fortunately for the Stanleys, medical advances in the months following the twins’ birth made a separation possible. The operation was an astonishing success, and, as you know, Lee and Stan have gone on to lead (at least semi) normal lives. You would think the successful surgery would have lead to a happy childhood for the Stanley boys, but that actually wasn’t the case. You see, for as much as LaMont wanted his children unattached to each other, he wanted them to be girls even more. He was overheard saying that he would rather have “stuck together girls” than these “separated fools”.
When Lee and Stan were 12 years old, their whole world was crashing down around them. Their parents were miserable. LaMont had developed an addiction to sniffing Elmer’s glue to cope with the “river of testosterone” in the Stanley household. On one fateful night, things reached a crescendo when LaMont forced Lee and Stan to start wearing training bras. He insisted that they would “train you to be a woman.” LaMont was very confused and disturbed. He spent most of his days spreading the Elmer’s glue onto his hands and arms, waiting for it to dry. Once dry, he would peel it off pretending it was his skin, exclaiming to the children, “Do you see this?! Your masculinity is making me crawl right out of my own skin!!”
After being forced to wear the training bras for 2 years, 24 hours a day, LaMont decided that, on the boys 14th birthdays, they would have the “unveiling”. Suffice it to say, it did not go as planned. When Lee and Stan removed their training bras, LaMont was beside himself. “Why would you do this to me? Why can you not give me even an inkling of a daughter? You’re just a couple a’ … FLAT STANLEYS!”, and kicked them both out of the house.
After setting out on their own, the Stanleys spent the next 7 years in halfway houses, except for one two year period of which they have no memory but are told was spent as members of a “religious cult”, after which they finally planted roots in a Fond Du Lac, MN, where they started a wicker furniture shop called “Weave Got Furniture”. They had a pretty rough go of things. For starters, Minnesota isn’t exactly a hotbed of activity as far as the wicker trade goes, but what was worse was the effect that the wicker had on Stan. It seems that he “enjoyed” wicker more than the “law” allows, and the result was several indecent exposure citations which ultimately earned him 6 years on house arrest. During that time, Lee attempted to continue with the business, but it was maddening. The sound of people sitting down then standing up from wicker sofas and chairs all day long made it impossible for him to continue, particularly since it seemed nobody was buying anything.
Moments after closing the shops’ doors, an out of town businessman by the name of Ozzie Humboldt bought up all of the remaining inventory, which was substantial. Upon hearing this news, Stan became suspicious and started investigating Mr. Humboldt, and made a shocking discovery. It seems that there’s a small, nameless island off the coast of Tasmania where wicker is both rare and valuable, due to its import laws. Stan found out that, on this island, no wicker is allowed to be imported, yet, all wood suitable for making wicker had been harvested, which made it even more valuable (don’t believe me? Check wickerpedia). Anyway, it seems that Mr. Humboldt had created a nice little black market wicker trade with the inhabitants of this nameless island.
Stan immediately contacted the authorities. Once the authorities started investigating Humboldt they realized that illegal wicker was not the only seedy activity in which he dabbled. In addition to the wicker and involvement in the distribution of polyester garments of questionable taste in high fashion markets such as Paris and New York, Humboldt had mob ties and had ordered hits on other moguls in the wicker and poor fashion industries. What he also found was that Humboldt had issued threats of maiming or death to the citizens of Fond Du Loc if they did not repeatedly visit “Weave Got Furniture”, only sit and stand from the wicker furniture several times before leaving without buying anything. Humboldt knew this would drive the Stanleys to close their shop.
Anxious to get Humboldt behind bars, but lacking evidence in other cases, the court offered Stan Stanley a shortened sentence in exchange for his testimony against Ozzie Humboldt. Of course, since Humboldt still had dangerous connections on the outside, the Stanleys were forced into the witness protection program.
Unfortunately, Stan’s time under house arrest did nothing to rehabilitate him, and finding places where wicker isn’t present is difficult. Consequently, the Stanleys were forced to continually relocate to escape the stigma of “wicker stan”, as Lee referred to him. While hiding in Hackensack, New Jersey, Stan fell into the wrong crowd, and ended up joining a gang. There, the streets were divided between the Hacks – a group united over their fondness for wicker furniture and the Sacks – a gang of wicker fundamentalists who believed that it should only be used in the making of baskets. Stan felt accepted for the first time in his life. The gang met weekly to discuss their plans to drive the Sacks out of town, after which they would have refreshments (that consisted primarily of Triscits).
As nice as finding people who understood him was, It was also a scary time for Stan (the Sacks were very passionate about their cause), but gang life paid well and Lee ultimately succumbed to the charms of the almighty dollar, too. The thug life treated the Stanleys pretty well for about 18 months, but it all came crashing down when the Hacks became the subject a large wicker fraud investigation (selling synthetic wicker is a big no-no in Hackensack), so the Stanleys were forced to relocate once again – this time to an Orange County suburb.
Adjusting to living clean and straight hasn’t been easy for the Stanleys, but by sharing their story through music, they may just make it this time.
Recently Commented On...
- Max Blooms Cafe Noir, Fullerton, CA