"Governor Rennebohm, My ass!' | WisCommunity

"Governor Rennebohm, My ass!'

 A recent nostalgia trip about Madison's long-gone Rennebohm drugstores (the photo is one on University Avenue, I think) reminded me of one of my favorite stories about Carrie Lee Nelson, the irrepressible wife of Gaylord Nelson.  Oscar Rennebohm, who founded the chain, served as governor when Gaylord was in the legislature.  Here it is, as related in a book by my favorite author []:

            One day, after the State Senate finished work, Nelson wound up talking politics and policy with Governor Rennebohm at the bar of the Park Hotel on the Capitol Square, where legislators, lobbyists and politicians congregated after work. Finding the conversation engaging, Rennebohm suggested they continue it over dinner at the Madison Club. Nelson said Carrie Lee was expecting him home; he was already late for dinner.  The governor said he would handle the matter if Nelson got Carrie Lee on the line, so Nelson dialed the number and handed him the telephone.

             ‘This is Governor Rennebohm,” he said. “I’m here discussing issues with Gaylord and I’ve invited him to come over to the Madison Club for dinner.  Does that meet with your approval?” 

            “Governor Renenbohm my ass!” Carrie Lee snapped. “You tell that S.O.B. to get home right now!” 

            “She doesn’t believe me,” Rennebohm said, handing Nelson the telephone. 

            Rennebohm was tickled, and never forgot it. For years, when he would see Carrie Lee at a reception or other official function, he would quietly greet her with, “Governor Rennebohm, my ass.” 

            Actually, Carrie Lee claimed years later she “knew very well it was Governor Rennebohm. He was on the radio all the time, and I knew they had had drinks together before. I was angry and annoyed.” Nelson understood why: “She had come home after working until seven o’clock and I was still up there having a drink or three.”


April 8, 2012 - 2:05pm