Patrick Francis McManus was born August 25, 1933 in his family’s old farmhouse three miles north of Sandpoint, Idaho. Actually, according to his mother, he was born on the 24th, but his father got the attending doctor drunk, and the confused man wrote the 25th down on Pat’s birth certificate instead of the 24th. This was a proper beginning for a person destined to become a humor writer. Pat’s mother said in later years that she paid the doctor in canned goods but felt she had been overcharged by at least two quarts of pickled beets. That was the heart of the Great Depression. “Heart” would not be Pat’s descriptive term, but never mind.
Pat’s schooling began as a baby, when his mother would take him with her into the classrooms of rural schools where she taught. He did not learn much. His mother was so accustomed to his running around in schoolrooms and going outside whenever he pleased. Then she failed him in second grade. Years later Pat’s report card for second grade was discovered. Under reason for failure, his mother had written, “Too many absences.” Since Pat lived at the school, he claims that failure as his major accomplishment in life.
[Pat, 3rd grade]
The following year, the McManus' returned to the farm. His mother taught in the grade school in Sandpoint. His father, Frank, a WW I veteran, died that year. Pat continued his education in the town schools without additional failures. A teacher at the high school, Paul Croy, remains one of Pat’s heroes. Paul was not only a great teacher but also a poet. His collection of poems, Old Blazes, awakened in Pat his first urge to become a writer.
During summers of his high school years, Pat worked as a fence-builder for farmers, a high scaler for a construction company (dangled from a rope over sheer cliffs), and a ground man in the construction of a power line over a mountain range. Having thereby earned enough money to start college, he entered Washington State University (then College). He distinguished himself in Freshman Composition by achieving Fs on his first six essays. Then one day his instructor, Milt Pederson, mentioned that young writers should look for “telling detail.” Pat was transformed. In that instant he became a writer. His final essay came back emblazoned with an A-plus and a recommendation that he be advanced to Honors English. (Pat met Milt Pederson at a dinner many years later and told his old instructor of the grade and note. Milt shouted, “I never gave a student an A-plus in my entire life!” But that’s Pat’s version and he’s sticking with it.
From then on, Pat became totally focused on writing. During his sophomore year, he became a WSC campus correspondent for the Lewiston Morning Tribune, whose editor, Bill Johnston, was nationally recognized editor and taught his correspondent much about the craft of journalism. Pat continued to do freelance features for the Tribune for the next few years. Due to a recommendation from Bill Johnston, his first job after college was as police reporter for The Daily Olympian in the state capital, Olympia, Washington. He then became an editor for Washington State University, while he worked on his master’s degree.
In 1959, Pat was hired by Eastern Washington State College (now University) as an instructor in English and Journalism. At the same time
he was hired as a newsman at KREM television in Spokane, Washington. He continued doing freelance features for television stations and newspapers around the Pacific Northwest. By the late 1960’s he was freelancing articles to numerous magazines, including factual articles published in TV Guide and Sports Illustrated.
Pat’s writing schedule consisted of writing two hours a night, from 7:00 till 9:00, seven nights a week. One night, at eight o’clock, he finished an article on the use of telemetry in the study of wildlife. He still had an hour to go on his writing schedule, so for his last hour he decided he would write a nonsense piece about the use of telemetry in the study of wildlife. The piece sold to Field & Stream Magazine for $300. “Wait a minute!” Pat thought. “That piece didn’t require any photographs or research or anything but thinking , and I made $300 with it.” It was at that moment Pat became a humor writer. He soon was named Associate Editor of Field & Stream. When his friend Clare Conley became editor of Outdoor Life, Pat moved to that magazine as Editor-at-Large. He wrote for those two magazines for over forty years.
He has written many hundreds of humor pieces, including most recently the “The Last Laugh” column for Outdoor Life Magazine. His humor pieces have been collected in 13 books. He has also written a children’s book, Kid Camping from Aaaiii! To Zip! and a book on the writing of humor, The Deer on A Bicycle. Recently, he has started writing mystery novels: The Blight Way (2006), Avalanche (2007), The Double-Jack Murders (2009), and The Huckleberry Murders (2010) all four published by Simon & Schuster. With his sister, Patricia Gass, he wrote a memoir/cookbook, titled Whatchagot Stew. He has written four one-man stage plays, widely performed by actor Tim Behrens in both the United States and Canada.
Pat has received numerous awards, including Centennial Scholar from Washington State University and the Trustees Medal from Eastern Washington University.
Pat’s wife, Darlene (Bun), handles all business and technical matters for the family, as she has for the past 57 years, and now she and Pat both write blogs on www.patrickfmcmanus.com. Pat and Darlene have four daughters, Kelly, Shannon, Peggy and Erin. They also have nine grandchildren and four great- grandchildren, some of whom refer to Pat as “Popsie.” He would prefer something more dignified but says he is happy to be referred to at all.