If you are from Chanhassen, you probably have your favorite PRINCE story. Here is mine. The time Grandma delivered homemade chocolate chip cookies to Prince’s house and invited him to church….
During the early 1980’s when my Mom was in her 60’s, and Prince, riding the success of Controversy and Purple Rain, was newly rich and famous, he lived in my home town of Chanhassen, Minnesota.
When Mom told us kids she had casually stopped by his house, we were mortified because we were Prince fans and we had heard the rumors about all the stuff that went on behind those gates. Oblivious to all that, my Mom had baked cookies, packaged them up pretty, hopped in her rusty old Honda Accord, and drove out to County Road 117 to the very same address where my high school friend, Ron Lybeck, used to live. The guard house at the end of the driveway was new since Ron’s family lived there.
Whatever possessed her that morning we will never know! She pulled up to the gate and a huge and handsome and very polite black man with a ton of gold chains draped around his neck stepped out in front of her car. He slowly walked up to her rolled down window.
“May I help you, ma’am?”
“Good morning, young man. Is Prince home?”
“Why no ma’am, he’s not. Is there something I can help you with?”
“Well, yes you can. I brought him these cookies I baked this morning. And a bulletin from last Sunday’s service at my church. I would like to invite Prince to visit my church sometime. Oh, and you are welcome to come along too, if you’d like.”
Still chattering, she handed him the tin of cookies and the bulletin. “The name of the church is Lutheran Church of the Living Christ and I’m sure you’ve seen it. It’s just south of town out on Highway 5. We really look forward to seeing you there. Service times are in the bulletin. Have a nice day.”
“Yes Ma’am. Thank you Ma’am.”
Well, I probably don’t need to tell you that Prince never did darken the door of my Mom’s fine little Lutheran church. But it made for a great family story, a story all her kids and grandkids love to tell each for their own reason. All the way from “My Grandma is so gutsy” to “Mom took every opportunity to share her faith with new neighbors” to “I think my Mom is losing it” to “Do you think that really happened?” I am sure the polite man in the guardhouse just thought she was nuts.
A few years later when my niece, Dawn, brought her new boyfriend over to meet Grandma, out came the ritual cookies and coffee. His name was Shawn and he was way too quiet. But in time the conversation meandered around to Shawn growing up in nearby Chaska. It turns out that when he was in high school, Shawn hung out with Prince’s bodyguard’s kids. What a small world! “Big Chick” Huntsberry and some of the Prince entourage provided a free and easy place for his kids and their friends to hang out, and Shawn was one of the crowd.
Dawn piped up, “Oh yeah! Hey Shawn! Did I ever tell you about the time my Grandma brought cookies to Prince’s house and invited him to go to church with her!?”
Pretty quiet up to that point, Shawn choked, nearly passing coffee through his nose! When he regained his composure, “THAT WAS YOU!!??”
Dawn couldn’t believe her ears. Shawn recounted one day back in high school he was hanging out with the Huntsberry kids when one of the bodyguards had come back to Big Chick’s house with home-made chocolate chip cookies which he shared with everyone, saying something about a little old church lady who had invited them to church. They had all had a good laugh as they munched on the best chocolate chip cookies in Carver County. When he stopped talking, my coy little Mom quietly looked at Shawn and asked him, “Well, why didn’t he come?”
My Mom believed for the best in people and she met them right where they were. While she could always be counted on to be the voice of reason in any given situation, we learned early to expect the unexpected from her. She passed away in 1998 when my sons were little, but I can’t help think that they would have loved her and would by this time have their own favorite “Grandma Grandma” stories.