One of the funniest outdoor writers of all time passed away this last week. Pat F. McManus was an American humor writer and columnist for Outdoor Life and Field & Stream as well as other magazines and newspapers. Luckily, he took many of these fine short stories and put them into volumes of books now sitting on our library’s shelves for your enjoyment.
McManus was born and raised in Sandpoint, Idaho. His father, who served in the 42nd (“Rainbow”) Division under General Douglas MacArthur during World War I, died when Patrick was six. Although his mother later remarried, for the most part he was raised by his mother, grandmother, and older sister Patricia McManus Gass (referred to in his childhood stories as “the Troll”). His family didn’t have much money and lived on a small farm on the banks of Sand Creek where they grew most of their own food. They had chickens, a milk cow and pigs and went hunting and fishing. After high school, McManus worked construction and other such jobs until he saved enough money to attend Washington State College, now Washington State University. He was married to Darlene “Bun” McManus and had four daughters.
McManus wrote mostly about his outdoor adventures from his childhood with semi-fictional characters such as his old woodsman mentor Rancid Crabtree and his childhood friends Crazy Eddie Muldoon and Retch Sweeney and his dog Strange. The stories’ humor is mostly based on elaborate exaggerations of his surreal adventures in the outdoors. McManus’s writing is characterized by a dry wit that has drawn comparisons to Mark Twain and Robert Benchley. If you haven’t read any of his work yet, you need to do so now. There are some pretty good chuckles inside his stories!
Here are some of his titles that are housed in your library:
- Grasshopper Trap
- They Shoot Canoes Don’t They?
- Whatchagot Stew
- Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink
- Kerplunk!: Stories
And his Sheriff Bo Tully Mystery Series:
- The Double Jack Murders
- The Huckleberry Murders
The Cordova Public Library is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed Mondays.