McManus made us laugh

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Me: (snickering)

Wife: Stop snickering

Me: (snicker. snicker)

Wife: I said, ‘Stop snickering!

Me: (Guffaw! Guffaw!)

Wife: OK, OK, read it to me so I can get some sleep

If you’re over 70 (maybe 60), you probably know what I’m talking about.

You are lying in bed reading a Pat McManus book, and your snickering is bothering your wife.

How could a person possibly fall asleep when reading about the exploits of Rancid Crabtree, game warden Sneed, Retch Sweeney, or my sister, The Troll?

Well known outdoor humorist Patrick McManus recently passed away at age 84.

My favorite McManus character was his dog Strange. I still guffaw every time I read page 18 in the story Skunk Dog in They Shoot Canoes Don’t They?

Short version: His mom had invited the new parish priest to family dinner. Looking out the dining room window they watched Strange walking on his front legs, dragging his rear end on the grass in sublime satisfaction.


I first met Pat McManus at an outdoor writer’s convention in Wichita, Kansas in l985.

I was hanging out at dinner with Spokane friend Keith Jackson.

“We better wait a few minutes for Pat,” said Jackson. “Sometimes Pat gets lost.”

“My GAWD,” I thought, “It’s PAT McMANUS!”

I was expecting a knee-slapper every sentence from McManus, but what I found was a quiet, be-speckled, college English professor-looking guy, dressed in a brown tweed sports coat with obligatory leather elbow patches.

I saw Pat several times over the years, including at a book-signing in Kalispell where I invited him to go kokanee fishing on Lake Koocanusa.

Back then, it seemed, everybody from Spokane fished for salmon at Lake Koocanusa.

Pat respectfully declined. I forget the reason. Probably something minor like a scheduled appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show.

Several of McManus’ books were compilations of the Last Laugh column he wrote for Outdoor Life magazine 1982-2009.

Included in his two dozen books are The Deer on the Bicycle, The Night the Bear Ate Gombaw, and Never Sniff a Gift Fish.

Check out McManus’ books.

Happy snickering!

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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