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Romance The Patrick McManus Way

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?

Move to California

 

A couple months ago my wife and I moved to Coarsegold, California, about a half hour south of Yosemite National Forest. We’re finally settled in and enjoying the change in scenery and exploring the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

There’s more wildlife here than we saw in suburban Utah. Squirrels and rabbits, of course, blue jays, finches, quail, hawks, deer, and we saw our first tarantula the other day!

I’ll post some of the pictures soon.

 

Story About Dog That Ran Away

I’ve had a request from a visitor via the Quick-Find a Story link here on the site. This is what he requested: “Field and Stream story from the 70’s about Pat’s dog running away.”

The email address he provided was not valid, so I’m posting this here in hopes he sees it:

Hi Gary,

I’ve researched all the stories about Pat’s dog, Strange, in all his books and have not found any mention of his dog running away. There is one story where Strange came home after being gone for two days and meeting their new cat, Matilda Jean (“Strange Meets Matilda Jean” in the book Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink!). I’ve even read through the memoirs he wrote in How I Got This Way and Whatchagot Stew, and no mention there either.

Patrick said he has a stack of stories in his closet that have been published in various magazines but not yet collected in book form. It’s possible the story you’re looking for is not in one of his books yet. My index is only for all the stories that have appeared in his published books.

If any of you are familiar with this story, please help us out in the comments below.

 

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.

New Strides in Sleeping Bags

Remember Pat’s adventures with sleeping bags? Comfort was not a primary attribute. The ones he got from Grogan’s War Surplus were filled with chicken feathers (and maybe some chickens still attached). They weighed as much as a rolled-up mattress, and if not filled with chicken feathers, they were filled with sawdust, horsehair and No. 6 birdshot. Thankfully more recent ones were much lighter, filled with the down of unborn geese.

He would definitely approve of the Selk’ Bag, a sleeping bag with arms and legs, ideally suited for Sasquatch hunting, sleeping out in the backyard, and any time you need maximum mobility at a short notice. And they’re stylish to boot!

Photo of man in original MusucBag

*This post has been edited. The company name and product details have been updated. I have no connection with the company and have received no remuneration from them.

Curmudgeons Need Love Too

Yes, Christmas time is your favorite time of year, the snow, the music, the lights and decorations, the feelings of goodwill. But you know there are some people who, (hm, how should one say,) don’t feel the same way you do.

Around the end of November, or sooner, a perceptible glaze covers their eyes, their jaw sets a little firmer and perhaps even juts out a little, and they’re even a might bit snippy. So get them this design on a mug (or lots of other items) and they will feel ever so slightly better.

Mug with design that says, "Oh, my favorite time of year...Jingle Hell"

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!