Gratitude

Over the years I’ve had McManus fans ask me to pass on to Pat their gratitude for his stories and how they have impacted their lives.

In difficult times in my own life I’ve turned to his stories to lift my spirits, and I knew I couldn’t be the only one. So I was glad to hear from a Vietnam war veteran who told me Pat’s stories helped him through periods of PTSD.  I had already created this design and it’s good to know it resonates with his fans:

I wanted to share with you a recent email from one of our McManus fans:

Dear Mr. McManus,

You don’t know me. But I grew up hearing your stories. My name is Chris Blotevogel, my father Eric was a Royal Ranger Commander (a Christian Boy Scout group). He read your stories not only to me and my brother, but to countless young boys across the state of Oklahoma.

I’m not sure if you read your fan mail, but wanted to let you know that my father was one of your biggest fans. If I had a dollar for every tear he shed reading “the night the bear ate goombaw” or “cigars, logging trucks and know-it-alls”, I’d be a rather wealthy man.

Words can’t express how much joy and happiness I saw in my father’s eyes when he read your stories from his death bed, it was a Fine and Pleasant Misery.

I’m not sure how much it’s worth, but I’d like to thank you. Your creative stories have brought laughter into many homes, including my childhood home and now the home I raise my own children in.  I’m sure I bore my children even now when we’re on road trips and they see me break out a paperback book. Keep up the amazing work, I look forward to your emails.

Sincerely, Chris. B

It’s a Sunday morning as I write this, nice and quiet, and now it’s time to go and read a few McManus stories…

Snow Days

Illustration of roof of cabin poking out of deep snow.

I know a lot of you are experiencing early stages of cabin fever with the heavy winter storms, because I’ve been getting several requests to help people find that story “about cabin fever and playing Monopoly.”

Here is a list of other winter stories to hopefully lighten up these cold, bleak days.

Two-Man Tent Fever

Found in the book Never Sniff a Gift Fish
The fever associated with cabin fever comes in many forms, but by far the worst is two-man-tent fever.

A Really Nice Blizzard

Found in the book Rubber Legs and White Tail-Hairs
When school gets canceled because of a blizzard, Rancid Crabtree shows Pat and Crazy Eddie Muldoon the proper way to ride an upside-down truck fender wearing a parachute.

Cold Fish

Found in the book They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?
Winter fishing is just as crazy as it sounds. In contemplating this malady Patrick also remembers the person responsible for exposing it to him: Rancid Crabtree.

Cry Wolf

Found in the book Rubber Legs and White Tail-Hairs
For six-year old Patrick entertainment was hard to come by in the dead of winter. Except for Tuesday evenings when they braved snow, ice, and wolves, to listen to the radio at the nearest neighbors.

The Snow Cave

Found in the book The Bear in the Attic
While Pat and Bun were taking a shortcut through the mountains in a blizzard, Pat was reminded of the time he and Crazy Eddie Muldoon built a snow cave during a blizzard in their youth.

A Big Chill

Found in the book The Bear in the Attic
While Pat was playing hookey from school, Rancid Crabtree stops by and takes him ice fishing. Rancid falls through the hole in the ice and they build a fire to dry his clothes. Things were going as well as could be expected until some helpful neighbors come along and help Pat burn the old rags he had found.

Journal of an Expedition

Found in the book They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?
Patrick presents his journal of a winter expedition with Al Finley and Retch Sweeney to Tuttle Lake.

The Human Fuel Pump

Found in the book The Grasshopper Trap
When the fuel pump goes out in Retch’s new pickup, in the mountains, in a blizzard, Al Finley heroically fills in.

Romance The Patrick McManus Way

Chalk-Heart drawing on wood of initials PM + OB (with the OB crossed out) and MP. The initials stand for Patrick McManus, Olga Bonemarrow, and Melba Peachbottom.

With Valentine’s Day coming up we could always use a little inspiration to show that special someone how much they mean to us. Along with those flowers and chocolates, read them a Patrick McManus story and give them the gift of laughter as well.

There were several girls in Patrick’s young life, some he had romantical feelings for. Unfortunately we can’t count the girl from a neighboring farm, Valvoleen Grooper, as she was his nemesis (remember “The Tin Horn” in The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw?).

Most of his learning-of-love lessons were at various times between Melba Peachbottom and Olga Bonemarrow. But Patrick also learned the art of wooing from watching others—his friend Crazy Eddie Muldoon and mentor Rancid Crabtree.

Here are some stories guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart:

Backseats I Have Known

Found in the book Never Sniff a Gift Fish

Backseats have long been known as the trysting place for young love, but for the outdoorsman it was his emergency shelter, gun rack, larder, and so much more.

Cupidity, Draw Thy Bow

Found in the book The Night The Bear Ate Goombaw

Patrick remembers his first honest-to goodness date with the radiant, shiny new Melba Peachbottom.

Silent But Deadly

Found in the book Kerplunk!

Just prior to Patrick’s date with Olga Bonemarrow, Gram feeds the leftover turkey gravy from Thanksgiving dinner to the family dog, Strange, with disastrous consequences (of course).

Muldoon in Love

Found in the books Rubber Legs and White Tail-Hairs, Never Cry “Arp!” and The Deer on a Bicycle

The lovely Miss Deets’s tenure as third grade teacher was a short one. Her ill-fated idea of Show and Tell began well enough, but when the poor kids brought in their “most interesting possessions,” the end was not far away.

The B’ar

Found in the book A Fine And Pleasant Misery

Rancid Crabtree has a bear in his brush pile and asks Patrick to help get it out. With further assistance from feisty Ginger Ann, they all get more than they expected.

Not Long for This Whirl

Found in the books Rubber Legs and White Tail-Hairs and Never Cry “Arp!”

In the muddy spring of Pat’s sophomore year of high school, Retch Sweeney stops by with Mrs. Peabody. Retch is taking her to her friend’s house and Pat asks to go along and be dropped off at Rancid Crabtree’s shack. They get stuck in the mud and Mrs. Peabody suffers the indignity of Rancid’s rescue.

Faint Heart

Found in the book Into the Twilight, Endlessly Grousing

In third grade, Pat’s teacher, Miss Deets, told the students they had to bring their fathers in to tell the class about their occupations. Since Patrick’s father had died, he convinces Rancid Crabtree to come instead.

My First McManus Story

Cover of book "The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw"

You Never Forget Your First Love

I remember the first McManus story I read. I was 30 years old (I don’t remember those first 30 years as being particularly boring, but without Patrick McManus what a dismal time it must have been). I was at a family reunion and my older brother handed me a book and said, “Here, you need to read this.”

The story was “The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw.” I was immediately struck with Pat’s dry, understated style. He made it seem so easy. I had never read a story that made me laugh so much.

As hysterical as his stories are when you’re reading them to yourself, to get the full effect you need to read them aloud, or listen to them being read. Those who know me know how much I love to read aloud. In my high-school years our family didn’t have a television so I would read out loud every night for our entertainment. I wish I had known about McManus back then.

Later that afternoon when the family was all together I read “The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw” to everyone, as well as “A Really Fine Blizzard” and “Getting it in the Ear.” It seems like I can only read a few out loud at a time ’cause I’m exhausted from laughing.

In the comments below tell us about your first McManus story. How old were you? How did you discover him?

Six Great McManus Stories for Father’s Day

There were many men in Patrick’s life. His father, stepfather Hank, and the fathers of his close friends all helped shape Pat into the man he is today, for better or worse. In honor of Father’s Day take some time and share these stories with the fathers in your life.

1. In Judgment of Men

Found in the book The Bear in the Attic.

Patrick contemplates the qualities of his father, stepfather, and other men that his mother might have married. He also remembers getting his first guns—a BB gun, a .22 rifle, and a shotgun.

2. Mean Tents

Found in the book The Grasshopper Trap.

Patrick describes the various tents that have tormented him throughout his life. In particular, he tells of shooting arrows through Cousin Buck’s new tent, and the time he and Crazy Eddie were mistaken for a mummy late one night in the Muldoon’s kitchen.

3. The Big Fix

Found in the book Rubber Legs and White Tail-Hairs.

Changing a flat tire today is nothing compared to “fixing a flat”. Patrick remembers the Sunday family outings of his childhood, with their regular flat tires. Watching his father’s antics was highly entertaining, since carrying a spare (and a jack even) were considered profligate.

4. Sequences

Found in the book The Night The Bear Ate Goombaw.

A task or goal may seem simple enough, but unless you’re careful you will be sucked into an endless vortex of sequences. It’s usually best to just go fishing instead.

5. Salami on Rye and Hold the Wild Gobo

Found in the book Never Sniff a Gift Fish.

Pat remembers his Dad’s advice about proper etiquette regarding Gram’s cooking of wild greens.

6. Blood Sausage

Found in the book Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink!

Hank’s culinary horrors are finally surpassed when a butchered-pig’s blood is saved to make sausages.

Four Stories to Make You Shiver and Pee Your Pants Laughing

This time of year people are always looking for the perfect scary story.

Each one of these stories gives me that indescribably pleasant shiver and also have the added benefit of making me laugh out loud.

1. The Big Woods

Found in the book How I Got This Way.

Mr. Muldoon takes Crazy Eddie and Patrick into a clearing deep inside the Big Woods on an errand to pick dewberries. As the sun sets Eddie’s imagination gets carried away, and all three of them flee the clearing with ghosts hot on their tails.

2. Mean Tents

Found in the book The Grasshopper Trap.

Patrick tells of the many tents he’s had the misfortune of encountering in his life. However, none of them are as fearful, to all parties concerned, as the one he and Crazy Eddie made out of gunny sacks one late-summer evening.

3. The Swamp

Found in the book The Grasshopper Trap.

Looking for an area on the Pack River that hadn’t been fished, Pat, his friend Birdy and the old woodsman, Rancid Crabtree, find themselves deep in a swamp. When darkness comes they narrowly escape an attack of a killer bat.

4. Grogan’s War Surplus

Found in the book A Fine and Pleasant Misery.

Late one night, from ten feet in the air, encased in a chicken-down sleeping bag, Patrick accidentally falls from his jungle hammock onto the unsuspecting family dog.

Happy Halloween!

How to Be a Family-Reunion Rockstar

Whenever our family gets together there is always a time set aside for some Patrick F. McManus stories. There’s nothing like laughter to bring everyone closer together.

If you enjoy reading out loud then set a time for mid-morning or mid afternoon before meal preparations begin.

If you don’t typically read out loud you might want to prepare everyone in advance. Plan to read just one story and test the waters. Ask parents to encourage the younger children to be respectful. A typical story could last fifteen minutes or so. Even if you haven’t read out loud very much, when you hear the laughter you’ll be swept up in everyone’s enjoyment.

Here is a short list of stories that have never failed to bring tears of laughter at our family reunions.

A Really Nice Blizzard

Found in the book Rubber Legs and White Tail Hairs.

When school gets canceled because of a blizzard, Rancid Crabtree shows Pat and Crazy Eddie Muldoon the proper way to ride an upside-down truck fender wearing a parachute.

The Grasshopper Trap

Found in the book The Grasshopper Trap.

Finally, one of Crazy Eddie’s ideas for a contraption actually works. With Rancid Crabtree’s help they build a grasshopper trap that works, in some ways, even better than they imagined. In other ways, not quite.

Pouring My Own

Found in the book Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink!

Pouring concrete isn’t nearly the fun experience you might imagine, and Pat explains why.

Pigs

Found in the book Rubber Legs and White Tail Hairs.

Returning from a fishing trip, Pat, Retch Sweeney, and Al Finley, find a farmer selling pigs for $7 apiece. Unable to pass up such a good deal they load up six of them in gunny sacks. Bedlam ensues. Of course.

Ralston Comes Through

Found in the book The Bear in the Attic.

Out of desperation, Patrick and his cousin, Buck, seek the advice of a fortune teller to find out where they might find some good fishing. Pat also uses this opportunity to test Buck’s fear of spiders.

Tenner-Shoe Blight

Found in the book How I Got This Way.

As Pat is explaining the necessities of all his different types of outdoor shoes and boots to his wife, Bun, he is reminded of the universal footwear of his childhood, tenner shoes. One time his cousin Buck won a contest to see who could keep their tenner shoes on the longest. He kept them on so long his toes grew together.

There you go, you rockstar you. And you don’t even need to wear leather and makeup!

Five Great Camping Stories by Patrick F. McManus

Here it is the dead-heat of the summer and all I want to do is head up to higher altitudes for a relaxing camping weekend. We know how those “relaxing camping weekends” can turn out to be not so relaxing, but that’s another post.

While you’re packing up everything don’t forget to take these Patrick McManus stories with you.

1. Get Ready

Found in the book How I Got This Way.
note: Read this one before you go.

Preparing for your trip can be so tedious, you might just want to do it the way Patrick does.

2. The Big Trip

Found in the book A Fine and Pleasant Misery.

Patrick finally gets to experience the big trip of his childhood imaginings, full of more misery and hardship than he could possibly hope for.

3. The Family Camper’s Dictionary

Found in the book Never Sniff a Gift Fish.

For those new to the sport of camping, Patrick has compiled a helpful dictionary of terms and phrases.

4. The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw

Found in the book The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw.

When the Muldoons invite Patrick to go camping, his Mom makes him take along an old fur coat to ward off the chill of the cold mountain night. This leads to a problem of mistaken identity.

5. But Where’s the Park Papa?

Found in the book A Fine and Pleasant Misery.

Taking the family with you? Patrick and his family spend their vacation at a national park, with the rest of humanity, it seems.

Now you’re all set, get out there and relax!