PORT ORCHARD — Linda Young quietly ended her 39-year tenure in June as a crafts vendor at the Port Orchard Farmers Market. But on Oct. 7, fellow vendors, friends and community members made sure she was given a noteworthy “Linda Young Day” farewell celebration at the weekly Saturday event.
The affable Young is a familiar figure at the Saturday market on the waterfront, who until recently was at her familiar vendor’s booth selling specialty crochet and hand embroidery items. While she’s known for her tea towels, refrigerator towels and embroidered pieces, Young is just as likely to be identified by customers as “the scrubbies lady” — one of her signature items is a cloth scrubber used to clean pots and pans.
While the longtime vendor is celebrated for her handcrafted items, her greatest legacy, according to friends and customers, is her sweet nature and friendly, caring attitude. That’s why Young was the guest of honor at the market, a silver crown atop her head and a wooden sign given to her commemorating her dedication and contributions to the Farmers Market.
Young said she was told in advance about her special day, but it still was surprising. “I had no idea it was going to be like that. They went to a lot of trouble to do that,” she said of the balloons, streamers and chocolate cake at her table.
Sadly, ill health has forced Young to end her Saturdays at the market — she has terminal cancer, which has made it difficult for her to keep up with crocheting and embroidery work. “It got too hard for me. To be honest, I’ve been going downhill pretty fast, but hope to get a second wind here soon.”
Young is using an oxygen unit to help her breathe. Still, she has plenty of support from longtime customers — she considers them dear friends — and family who help in other ways.
Finding friends, after all, was her initial reason for becoming a vendor at the farmer’s market.
“I did it because I needed to get out of the house and meet people,” Young, also a longtime Port Orchard resident, said. “My boys were a year or two old when I started, so I was then able to get away on Saturdays.”
Just a handful of vendors were with the market at its start, she said. Young pointed out that Davis Farm of Belfair still is a vendor, albeit with a succeeding generation in charge. Being a 39-year vendor at the market allowed her to pick up plenty of repeat customers over the years — including those customers’ children and grandchildren.
“Most of my friends are from the market,” Young noted. “The market is a big, happy family. We’re a very close group. My sons’ friends will come down with their own families. That’s been fun to see.”
There’s little doubt this crafty vendor misses her Saturday routine. “I miss it every Saturday,” she said. “I still look at the weather on Saturdays to see what it’s going to be like outside.”
While her illness has kept Young from making regular visits to the market this summer, she was able to stop by a few weeks ago with the help of family members prior to the celebration.
With husband Ray at her side, Linda Young spent those few hours at her celebration basking in the reflection earned from the years she shared her warmth, kindness and friendship with others. But in spite of that, she’s still a bit surprised at the outpouring of love on her special day.
“That was the best time ever,” the market’s veteran vendor said afterward. “I really couldn’t believe it. This place is like my second home.”