Secret Places on YouTube

Patrick and Crazy Eddie Muldoon find the perfect secret place one summer, up in the rafters of the Muldoon’s garage. They find several boxes of empty canning jars and decide to conduct a science experiment throughout the summer’s sweltering heat. Who knows how far it could have gone if Mr. Muldoon didn’t accidentally discover it.

For anyone who had their own secret places as a kid, or even has them now, the story Secret Places is for you.

Cold Fish on YouTube

Cold Fish is one of the stories a lot of people ask me to help them find (it’s in the book They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?), especially in winter. It highlights the wonderful relationship between Pat and his mentor, the cantankerous old woodsman Rancid Crabtree.

As a rule Rancid tries to avoid work at all costs. But he is also prone to inventing elaborate schemes to help him avoid said work, and in the process expends a lot of energy that, to an outside observer looks an awful lot like the kind of work he is probably trying to avoid.

In this story Pat and Rancid build a fish shack with a sail on it so the wind can help move the shack from one fishing hole to another. Of course it works a little better than anticipated.

Sequences on YouTube

Sequences has always been one of my favorite stories. I remember the first time I read it. I couldn’t believe how perfectly he captured what happens in my own mind whenever I set out to do any task, no matter how small it may seem.

For instance, a few days ago I tried to start my morning with a cup of coffee but I was out of coffee creamer. Lucky me I had a new one in the pantry. But when I went to throw the empty one in the garbage I couldn’t because it was full. So I pulled out the full trash bag and took it outside to the trash bin. Standing in the cold, shivering, I looked around confused, wondering why I wasn’t sitting in my chair sipping my morning coffee like usual. The vortex of sequences had snuck up on me again.

Patrick McManus Story Videos

Recently I’ve been thinking of ways to give back to all of you wonderful Patrick McManus fans. If we could all get together and sit around the campfire I’m sure it wouldn’t be long before we broke out the books and shared our favorite stories between double portions of whatchagot stew.

So I thought of the next best thing that’s within my ability to do. I’ve started to add some videos to the McManus Index YouTube channel of me reading the most popular Patrick McManus stories. I started with his most famous stories, A Good Deed Goes Wrong and My First Deer and Welcome to It. Every month or so I’ll keep adding more.

If you’ve got about twenty minutes and need a quick laugh, stop on by! Oh, and subscribe to the YouTube channel so you’ll know when new stories are added.

McManus Index YouTube Channel

Make it a McManus Christmas

Ten Stories to Make Your Christmas Merrier

As we come to the close of one of the worst years most of us have experienced I thought you’d enjoy the gift of laughter as a small respite.

Here are ten stories about Christmas that are found in Pat’s story collections.

  • “A Brief History of Giving (1942-89)” in Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink!
  • “Christmas Over Easy” in The Horse in My Garage
  • “Christmas Shopping” in The Horse in My Garage
  • “Letter to Santa” in Rubber Legs and White Tail-Hairs
  • “Mean Gifts” in The Good Samaritan Strikes Again
  • “The Christmas Hatchet” in Never Sniff a Gift Fish
  • “The Gift” in They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?
  • “The Magic Tree” in The Bear in the Attic
  • “Tin Boat” in The Bear in the Attic
  • “Why Wives on Christmas Mourn” in The Grasshopper Trap

If you find you’re missing any of these books here is a complete list with links where you can purchase them. I’ve also made this list available as a bookmark to help you keep track.

Share some laughter with your loved ones and please stay safe!

A Little Laughter To Make it Through This Dark Time

If you’re anything like me, each day is covered in a blanket of unease and nervousness, feeling like there’s nothing I can do. But of course I am doing something to help the situation. Keeping apart from everyone right now is the best thing any of us can do, but it doesn’t feel like much.

So I did what I usually do when things are stressful—I turned to Patrick McManus. I read a story this morning with my wife. “Secret Places,” about Pat and Crazy Eddie’s science experiment in the rafters of the Muldoon’s garage. It did both of our hearts good to laugh. (It’s found in the books Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink! and Never Cry “Arp!”)

Here are a few stories that should help take your mind off things, at least for a little while:

Mean Tents

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.

The Grasshopper Trap


Camping In

Camping out is a lot better if you can do it in a camper. It keeps you off the cold, hard ground and protects you from assorted wildlife, including Sasquatches.

Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink!


Scritch’s Creek

As kids, Patrick and Retch Sweeney discover a fishing hole so wonderful it may never have been fished before. Then they discover the reason it hasn’t been fished—it’s on the property of Ketchum Scritch, the meanest codger anyone’s ever met.

The Night The Bear Ate Goombaw


The Grasshopper Trap

Finally, one of Crazy Eddie Muldoon’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.

The Grasshopper Trap


The Blue Dress

While Rancid Crabtree was swimming in the creek on a hot summer day, his clothes were stolen by the Skragg boys. Pat and Retch Sweeney are sent to a nearby house to find some clothes, but all they’re able to bring back is a blue dress.

How I Got This Way



Mr. Tiddle offers to take Mrs. Slocum’s Cub Scouts on an overnight outing. His Boy Scouts, Attila and Lucifer, lead them on a near-death march to the campsite. They get the sweetest revenge when Mr. Tiddle goes skinny-dipping in the icy lake.

The Good Samaritan Strikes Again
and Never Cry “Arp!”

What stories have helped you during these past few weeks?

Stay safe friends,


Most Requested McManus Stories

We all have our favorite McManus stories. For me, just off the top of my head, some of mine are Hunting the Wily Avid, The Grasshopper Trap, The Bush Pilots, The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw, Snake, Pigs…hmm, it seems the more I name the more I keep remembering. I don’t know if I could limit all my favorite stories to a top ten kind of list.

But what I can do is tell you the ten most requested stories I’ve been asked to help people find on the McManus Index website. I’ve helped over five hundred people find their favorites.

These are the ten most requested stories from the past seven years. Grab your copy of each one and read along; you’ll have a day of laughter.

10 – Whitewater Fever/Shooting the Chick-a-Nout Narrows (found in the books The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw and A Fine and Pleasant Misery)

I know it’s two stories, but when people ask about riding the rapids and the Chick-a-Nout Narrows the two stories are inseparable.

9 – Silent But Deadly (found in the book Kerplunk!)

This is the one where Pat’s dog, Strange, slurps up the leftover Thanksgiving gravy, bloats up like a ticking gas bomb, and hides in the backseat—ruining his date with Olga Bonemarrow.

8 – Gunrunning (found in the book The Grasshopper Trap)

Evidently a lot of you need this refresher about how to sneak all those guns past your wife.

7 – Poof! No Eyebrows (found in the book Never Sniff a Gift Fish)

As kids Pat and Retch Sweeney work their way up the caliber range with their black-powder experiments until they try to fire a croquet ball from a sewer-pipe canon.

6 – Mean Tents (found in the book The Grasshopper Trap)

Pat and Crazy Eddie try to sleep out in the Muldoon’s backyard. Unable to withstand the onslaught of darkness, and unable to untie their gunnysack tent, they barge into the kitchen, terrifying the dog and Mr. Muldoon, who had been listening to a scary radio program about a mummy.

It’s interesting to see how the details change in people’s minds. Sometimes it was a mud hut in the rain, and the radio show was about aliens.

5 – Secret Places (found in the book Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink!)

All summer long Pat and Crazy Eddie had been conducting a science experiment involving canning jars and urine, only to have it come to an unforgettable end when Mr. Muldoon accidentally discovered their secret hiding place.

4 – Cold Fish (found in the book They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?)

Always trying to avoid anything resembling work, Rancid Crabtree and Patrick rig a sail to their ice-fishing shack to make it easier to move across the frozen lake. It worked better than they’d hoped, until the wind really picked up.

3 – 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.

2 – My First Deer and Welcome To It (found in the book They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They? and also the story titled “The Deer on the Bicycle”, found in the book of the same name)

When hunters get to telling about their first deer, they tend to exaggerate until one can scarcely believe the tale. For instance, one night down at Kelly’s Bar & Grill the stories were becoming so unbelievable that Patrick stepped in to give an unvarnished account of riding his bike to get his first deer.

1 – A Good Deed Goes Wrong (found in the book Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink!)

This story actually contains two that are tied together. Pat and Crazy Eddie build a toboggan run and Rancid Crabtree offers to test it for them. In the aftermath Rancid ends up with a broken leg. To ease their guilty feelings, Pat and Eddie decide to do a good deed by giving Rancid a road-kill bobcat. Of course, their good deed goes wrong.

Surviving Cancer with McManus Stories and Laughter

Last weekend I gave the survivor talk for our ACS Race for the Cure-and I told them about the wonderful effect humor in the form of Patrick McManus had on my recovery!! 

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer stage IIIB, and was terrified out of my mind. This is a section of my talk.

When the diagnosed of cancer was official, I was terrified.

  • My brain and my ears could not understand the words they said,
  • Neither could I read any of the words in the stacks of literature they handed me.
  • What I could finally deduce was that the cancerous mass was too big to remove surgically, so they would begin high dose/rapid infusion chemo, and three weeks after treatment began, my hair would be gone.

One day my husband, Roger, and I were invited to dinner with extended family. During dinner different family members asked me the gentlest possible questions about my cancer and treatment.

I could not answer even one of their questions.

After dinner when we got in our car I said to Roger–“This cancer business is not just about me, is it? It involves our whole family, doesn’t it?”

Roger said “Yes. ”

I realized I needed to make significant changes in my thinking.

One of the first thoughts that came to mind was: “A merry heart does good, like medicine” from Proverbs 17.

My heart had not been “merry” for a long time.

Immediately I told Roger about a book I remembered by Dr. Bernie Siegel who conducted research on the effect of laughter for terminally ill Cancer patients.

We made a decision right then to devote time every evening to laughter and we knew just where to turn. One of our favorite authors when our kids were little had been Patrick McManus, a humor writer for [Outdoor Life and Field & Stream] whose books were a collections of his stories. His best stories were memories of his antics with his childhood friend Crazy Eddie Muldoon and an old woodsman named Rancid Crabtree! When we read his stories we used to laugh until we cried!

Then our kids grew up and moved away taking our McManus book collection with them! So that evening Rog drove to Barnes and Nobel and bought ten new McManus books for our library.

Lou and her husband, Roger, reading Patrick McManus stories together.

At home that night we read one of our favorite stories, “The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw.” We laughed until tears ran down our faces and joy began to replace fear in our house!

The next day, in response to five requests from friends, we opened a CaringBridge account (which is a free non-profit website that helps connect patients with family and friends).

In CaringBridge we wrote our story. Our family & friends responded.

As the first words of encouragement, prayers, and Bible promises arrived in my computer, I found my mind lifted above my fear, and for the first time after diagnosis I felt peace. The light and joy from good books had started us on this journey toward peace, and I found that the words of friends and family gave me a confidence that I was not alone and that God was with me.

Thank you Patrick McManus and publishers!

Editor’s note: this post has been edited from a longer post, focusing primarily on Pat’s stories. For the original post, click here.


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

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.