Midge Young’s getting one big party

By now Steven’s Restaurant has arranged for the Midge Young party buffet this Saturday in Princeton to feed up to 400.

Coborn’s, meanwhile, has readied for its catering part, a 10-piece big-band orchestra is scheduled to play, soloists have rehearsed, a skit for the open house has been prepared, and the cake, balloons and flowers have all been ordered.

All to celebrate local resident Midge Young turning 90 on April 19.

This will be no ordinary birthday bash, at least by middle-class standards, that Midge’s son Chuck Young is planning for her. But while Chuck, 60, her only child and her caretaker, acknowledges that this is to be a big party, he doesn’t seem to make a whole lot out of that.

“When someone turns 90, you have a party,” said Chuck matter-of-factly on Monday this week.

Chuck does admit, though, being a bit nervous that this is not an RSVP affair in which organizers could get a fairly close idea on how many plan to show up.

“I wanted to have RSVP, but she (Midge) wouldn’t go along with that,” nor agree to the idea of an invitation-only buffet, Chuck said.

The party is technically open to the public, but it is really meant to be a private party for those who care about Midge, Chuck said as he told about the following plans:

• Midge Young open house, 1-5 p.m., at the Freshwaters United Methodist Church in Princeton, complete with light lunch catered by Coborn’s.

• One-hour, open-house program starting at 2 p.m. at Freshwaters, with a “Tina and Lena” skit, vocal solos and a photo production tribute to Midge’s friends, living and gone. Chuck says the photo tribute has brought tears to his eyes.

• Midge’s “grand party” at Steven’s Restaurant in downtown Princeton, 5 p.m.-midnight, with buffet dinner 5-8 p.m.

• The grand party dance at Steven’s, featuring the 10-piece big band/swing-style orchestra – Tim Patrick and His Blue Eyes Band – from 8 until midnight.

Chuck is even planning for limousine service in case an attendee is not sober enough to drive from the grand party to their home in the Princeton area.

All this has to cost a lot, and although Chuck wouldn’t give any exact figures, he did say that it will be “in the thousands.” Maybe he shouldn’t have retired from his job last July at Federal Cartridge where he had worked 36 years in the same building in Anoka, he quipped. But the 12-hour shifts got to be too much, he said.

Midge is a widower, her husband Willis “Tud” Young, having been killed in an automobile accident 29 years ago near Princeton. Among the people planning to attend the party is Midge’s longtime friend Lylla Minks who will be 96 in July. Midge and Lylla arrived in Princeton the same year – 1942 – Midge from Onamia and Lylla from Glendorado – and the two worked in different grocery stores in the same building that stood where Ossell’s is now in downtown Princeton.

Lylla was responsible for the Midge nickname. “I didn’t like the name Inez,” Lylla said this week, noting that she called Inez “Midget” at first because of Midge’s slight build, and then just called her Midge after that and it stuck.

Chuck noted that it was Midge’s health problems, including cancer, asthma and diabetes, that motivated him to put on a big birthday party for her now. But the catalyst for making it so extravagant, he indicated, was his hearing the Tim Patrick and His Blue Eyes Band when it was playing in Elk River a year ago.

The music reminded him, he said, of Midge’s era that included the 1940s and how Midge was part of what Chuck calls the “grand generation.” So many in that generation went to war, came home and raised families and “didn’t complain,” Chuck said.

 

The work of

organizing

Making the arrangements has been a “big undertaking…an ordeal,” he said, adding that it has also been “interesting,” and an “enjoyable adventure.” But now he is glad he is “getting down to the wire” where the planning will soon be over, he said.

The uncertainties arising from Midge’s worsening health problems this year, accompanied by the fact that any cancellation notices to Steven’s Restaurant and the band would have to be given 30 days in advance, all added to the stress of the party organizing, Chuck noted.

There is also the fact that Midge was not the most willing partner early on for having the party, according to Chuck.

Chuck explained that Midge “didn’t really want to have the party,” but that he told her, “You’re going to have one whether you like it or not.”

But as the party planning went on, it “boosted her morale,” he said.

Chuck noted that many are coming from out of town for the party and have booked rooms in the town’s two hotels.

Kay Trunk, who is doing the skit at the open house for Midge, doesn’t expect that Midge will stay up until the party’s end. “I think it’s fun,” Trunk said of the party plans, and added: “We can dance without her.”

“I don’t know if she’ll be able to take it,” Lylla Minks said, noting that when a party was thrown for Lylla’s 95th birthday, she could only party two hours.

As Chuck mulled over questions about the challenges of ordering a set number of meals and not knowing how many are to be fed, he said he is prepared with “Tupperware” containers. Freshwaters United Methodist can benefit from leftovers the next day, he explained.

Still one more layer in the Midge Young party story emerged in talking with Midge on Monday that may get more to the heart of things.

Midge explained that Chuck had told her she deserves a big party because she and Tud had only been married 35 years when Tud was killed. Chuck indicated that the party is to make up for the fact that Midge and Tud never got to have a 50th anniversary and accompanying celebration, Midge said.

“I didn’t know it would be this big,” she admitted, and said she became at ease with the idea once knowing that Chuck would be taking care of all the work. “I’m (now) very thrilled about it,” Midge said on Monday.

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