Scout and Morgan Books in Cambridge held an event at North Folk Winery where Minnesota U.S. Sen Al Franken and District 11 State Sen. Tony Lourey talked candidly about Franken’s new book, “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate” Aug. 22 at North Folk Winery in Harris.
“Themes throughout the book are how you build relationships in an environment where you have a very different world view from several of those that you served with,” Lourey said. “But it’s important to get things done.”
Lourey asked Franken to talk about one of the stories in the book regarding former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn because he thought that really stood out.
“Our first interactions we didn’t connect, so I asked him to go to lunch and he said, ‘Let’s go to breakfast,’” Franken said. “When we were at breakfast, I told him let’s just have fun and we can talk about anything like our families, politics, or our previous careers. I asked him, ‘To be a doctor in Oklahoma, do you have to have any formal education?’ He replied, ‘Yes, you have to go to medical school.’ I told him that was a joke and that’s what I used to do in my previous career.”
Franken said he received a note from Coburn later saying that he had fun. When Franken was writing the book, he asked him, “Can I get your permission to write about the time we went to breakfast?” Coburn replied, “We have a First Amendment; you can write anything you want.”
The two discussed other stories in the book including one about Franken’s fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Moline.
“Early in the campaign, I got a letter from Mrs. Moline that said, ‘Dear Mr. Franken, if you’re the Alan Franken that I taught at Cedar Manor in fourth grade, it doesn’t surprise me at all that you are running for the Senate because you were a very good student.’ She sent me a check for $25,” Franken said.
Franken looked her up in the phone book and called her. She was surprised that he remembered her. He told her he remembers all of his teachers and that she was his favorite.
“I invited her to coffee and came up with the idea to put her in my first ad because we were trying to establish that even though I had been on Saturday Night Live and lived in New York for a while, I grew up in Minnesota,” Franken said. “What was really neat about this is that her former students started emailing us and we would forward them to her. Once in a while, she would send one back and there was one that I will never forget. It read, ‘Dear Mrs. Moline, I was in your fourth grade class and I’m afraid I wasn’t a very good student because there was stuff happening in my home. Your spelling tests were very hard, but I’ll never forget when you stayed after school with me because you saw that I liked art, and you painted a window with me. You made me feel loved. Now I am a fourth grade teacher in Red Wing, and I try to make my kids feel the way you made me feel.’”
After the laughter subsided, Franken did a book signing and stayed until every last book was signed.
“I want to thank Scout and Morgan books and North Folk Winery,” Franken said. “I’ll personalize the book, but I won’t write, ‘I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me.’”