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BOOK REVIEW: WE'LL ALWAYS BE PALS
BY TOM MCMANUS
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What an interesting and fascinating book this former NFL player has given to the world. Tom’s insight on his and his father’s life is such an inspiration to any reader. Tom’s father, Geno McManus, was a family man that enjoyed not only his family but also his football. Geno loved to coach and teach football and other sports too, but football was his love. Geno probably could have been an NFL player as Tom eventually became, but the war short-circuited Geno’s career. When WWII began Geno and many of his college friends joined the military to fight a different battle than the ones he loved on the football field of play.
Tom tells early in his book about the many times he got in trouble because he enjoyed everything, even the things he knew were wrong. Not the kind of trouble that was against the law (well, most of the time) but things that would irritate friends, neighbors, and schoolmates, but Tom, as his father had taught him, knew what to say and do to make things “right!” Geno’s family had gone through the great depression and knew from his life and his parent’s life how tough living could be to just exist. Geno was quite a boxer and golfer, and he enjoyed beating up on the best he could find. He wanted to go to college but the depression forced his parents into making him work because money was so scarce. Geno worked at menial jobs making very little in wages but every little bit helped. Eventually Geno worked in a bank and enjoyed his football and boxing on the weekends. Many a Monday he would report to work black and blue.
Eventually Geno decided he had to go to college and enrolled at Rutgers and played football and boxed, being among the best at both. But, when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese on December 7, 1941 Geno joined up not knowing if he would ever be able to go back to Rutgers. He was in his sophomore year when he left. He went through training and became a pilot of the monster “boxcar” B-24 Bomber.
The book shifts to Tom at this point when he was finishing up his high school after very successful football years. His dad was his biggest critic knowing that Tom would get an earful even if he did everything correctly on the field. Tom Coughlin, the future coach of the new Jacksonville NFL Jaguars, was coaching at Boston College, the school Tom had chosen from his scholarship opportunities. Little did Tom know what a roll Tom Coughlin would play in his future!
Geno had never talked about the war to his son. One day Tom brought up the subject and Geno opened up. Geno had flown many missions over Germany but one day was shot down and became a prisoner of war. Geno opened up to Tom his experiences from training, to actually flying, to the prisoner time, to liberation, and his return to the United States. Tom tells this period very well.
I found myself tearing up as I read some of Tom’s passages describing his dad and the relationship they had. They truly were “pals” in every family sense of the word. I highly recommend this book if you like a very well written book about human life, football, high family values and the carrying out of same, love of all members of the McManus family, and how their lives affected each other as well as their friends. Thanks Tom for sharing.
REVIEWED BY CY HILTERMAN
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WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, CY HILTERMAN
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