The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw

The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw

by Patrick F. McManus


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America’s “most gifted outdoor humorist” (Detroit Free Press) regales readers with this collection of gut-busting, man vs. nature tales originally published in such magazines as Field & Stream and Outdoor Living.

Patrick F. McManus’s hilarious and comic stories of camping and other nature-oriented activities reach ridiculous proportions in The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw. From teaching his stepfather the methods of madness behind farm work through his best friend’s grandmother’s fear of bears, McManus reveals that human behavior is even wilder than the wilderness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805013405
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 05/15/1990
Edition description: REV
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 173,586
Product dimensions: 5.61(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.52(d)

About the Author

Patrick F. McManus (1933-2018) is the author of novels, plays, and more than a dozen collections of his humor columns from Outdoor Life and other magazines. There are nearly two million copies of his book in print, including his bestselling The Shoot Canoes, Don't They?; The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw; and A Fine and Pleasant Misery.

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The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw

By Patrick F. McManus

Holt Paperbacks

Copyright © 1990 Patrick F. McManus
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780805013405

Night The Bear Ate Goombaw, The
SequencesI have long been a student of sequences, probably because of my upbringing on a farm and, perhaps the larger influence, my association with my stepfather, Hank. My mother remarried several years after my father died, and Hank came to live with us on our Idaho farm. He was a city person, at one time the manager of a minor-league baseball team who had spent most of his working life in the grocery business. You would expect that someone in the grocery business would know about farming and sequences, but both forever remained a mystery to Hank.What Hank seemed never able to grasp was that on a farm you simply don't go out and do a piece of work. No, the first thing you do is determine the lengthy sequence of activities necessary even to begin the job. Then you realize that the sequence of preparatory activities is so long you will never get to the intended task. So you go fishing instead. This had been my family's approachto farming for generations, and it worked fine, but Hank could just never get the hang of it.One day Hank said to me, "Pat, let's take off the day and go fishing up Ruby Crick.""Sounds good to me," I said. "Let's go.""Okay. But first we have to fix that hole in the pasture fence. Won't take but twenty minutes."My shoulders sagged. "Hank," I said. "Either we go fishing or we fix the fence. Which is it?""Both," he said. "First we fix the fence, then we go fishing. Now go get the wire stretcher and we'll get started."I saw that it was hopeless. No matter how often I had tried to explain sequences to Hank, he could never grasp their significance. "The wire stretcher's broken," I said."Oh, that's right. Well, we'll just run over to the Haversteads and borrow theirs.""Yeah, but the Malloys borrowed our post-hole digger.""We can swing by the Malloys and pick up our post-hole digger on the way back from borrowing the Haversteads' wire stretcher. Then we fix the fence and go fishing. Easy as pie.""We're out of fence staples, too.""Is that right? I guess after we borrow the Haversteads' wire stretcher and pick up our post-hole digger from the Malloys, we can zip into town and buy some staples at Jergans Hardware, come back, fix the fence, and go fishing.""But Hank, you promised Sam Jergans you would haul him in a load of hay bales from the Nelsons' the next time you came to town.""Danged if that ain't what I promised! I got to take Sam the hay when we go for the staples. Otherwise he'llbe mad as hops. We'll have to take the truck, but first we better pick up the spare tire that's over at LaRoy's Shop getting fixed. So here's what we'll do. We'll borrow the post-hole digger from the Haversteads, pick up our wire stretcher from the Malloys, stop by LaRoy's Shop and get the spare, go over to Nelson's and load the hay, haul the hay in to Jergans, buy the staples, come home, fix the fence, and go fishing. How does that sound?""You're getting mixed up, Hank. We borrow the wire stretcher from the Haversteads and pick up our post-hole digger from the Malloys.""Good leapin' gosh a'mighty, this is gettin' complicated. Now where did we start? I better write it down in the proper ...""Sequence," I said. "We started out to go fishing, but first you wanted to fix that stupid hole in the fence."It was this early training in sequences that made almost any endeavor in life seem impossible to me. That is why I have just gone fishing instead. I have always enjoyed reading about the great successes so many men and women achieve, and once I even thought I would read a book about how to become a success myself."I'm going down to the library to check out a book that tells me how I can become a success," I told my wife, Bun."That's a good idea," she said. "I only wish you had read it thirty years ago. Since you're going downtown to the library, will you drop off some clothes at the dry cleaners?""Sure.""I have a coupon for twenty-five percent discount on cleaning. Oh, darn! I threw the newspaper out. Will you run over to the Smiths and see if they still have theirs? And I told Bev Smith she could have that old trunk inthe attic and you can take it over to her when you go, but you'll have to repair the hinge on the attic door first, because otherwise the door will fall off, so when you're down in the basement getting your tool box, I'd like you to--""Forget it," I said. "I'm going fishing."I never did get to read the book on how to become a success. I doubt if I missed much. Once I did go to a seminar on becoming a success, and the speaker said the most important thing was for one to set goals for oneself. That was when I walked out. Any fool can set goals. I've set more goals than a trapper sets traps. I could set half a dozen goals for myself this very minute, without exerting more than a couple of brain cells in the process. The problem is getting to the goals. Every goal has a sequence swirling beneath it like the vortex of a whirlpool. Take your first step toward that goal and you're instantly sucked into the vortex, swirled downward endlessly farther and farther away from your goal, until you've completely forgotten what the goal was, and your only concern is how to get out of the vortex. It's kind of scary, if you think about it.I've seen decent, normal persons suddenly come down with ambition and set themselves a goal or two. Then they set off for their goals and you hear a diminishing wail as they're sucked down into the vortex of sequence, and they're never seen again, although sometimes you'll get a postcard from Acapulco. It's much better just to go fishing and forget about success. You'll be happier, take my word for it.Even fishing can be fraught with sequence, however, and you must be constantly on guard against it. Suppose, for example, Retch Sweeney shows up and asks me togo fishing with him. I say, "Okay," grab rod, reel, and tackle box, and start out the door."What test line you got on that reel?" Retch asks."Four-pound.""Not strong enough for bass. Go put eight-pound on. Ten would be better.""Do you want to fish or get sucked into a sequential vortex?" I snap, continuing on out the door."What? You got trouble with your drains again? Yeah, let's get outta here before Bun catches us. Four-pound's good enough."I have never attempted to explain sequences to Retch, but he has an instinct for avoiding them. Somewhere in the spacious recesses of his mind he senses that if I wait to put on eight-pound line before I go fishing, I will never get to the fishing. Maybe there won't be quite enough line to fill the spool. Then I will have to wind the line off the reel spool and back onto the stock spool. Next I will have to find some line to back up the eight-pound line. After that I will have to go to Gary Soucie's Hook, Line & Sinker to study the knot for tying two lines together. But then I'll remember I loaned the book to my next-door neighbor, Al Finley, but if I go ask Finley for it, he will want his lawn mower back before Bun has a chance to mow the lawn with it. Thus I will be forced to mow the lawn myself, then return the lawn mower to Finley, get my book back, study the knot, tie the two lines together, and wind them on the spool. By then it will be too late to go fishing. It's better to take my chances with four-pound-test.If you are to achieve any happiness in this world or know a moment's peace, you must learn to view any undertaking not as an isolated event in itself but as astarting point from which you work backwards through endless sequences. The happiest man I ever knew was my old mentor in woodscraft, Rancid Crabtree. Rancid understood the necessity of avoiding sequences. "You can't go chasin' life all over tarnation," he was fond of saying. "You got to set back and let it come to you. Stay in one place long enough and most everthang'll come by at least once."It didn't make any sense to me either. But the point is, Rancid was the happiest man I've ever known. Faced with some monumental task or dismal but necessary chore, he didn't sit around whining or cursing his luck. He just squared his shoulders, set his jaw, and said, "This dang nuisance can take care of itself. Let's go fishin'!"The man knew sequences.Copyright © 1989 by Patrick F. McManus


Excerpted from The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw by Patrick F. McManus Copyright © 1990 by Patrick F. McManus. Excerpted by permission.
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