Everything for Your Home's
Beauty, Comfort & Convenience 384-2123
704 Jamestown St, Columbia
Dr. Ronald P. Rogers
Support for your body's natural healing capabilities
Click here for details
Click here for information
Real Estate & Auction Co.
Duo County Telecom
Now Available Through
Your Cable Service!
GUN & PAWN
What's Going On
Info about the
Janice Holt Giles
and Henry Giles Society
Columbia Gas Dept.
GAS LEAK or GAS SMELL
24 hrs/ 365 days
270-384-2006 or 9-1-1
Call before you dig
Directory of Churches
phone numbers and more
for churches in Adair County
Tom Chaney. No. 036: Welcome to Catfish Bend
Of Writers and Their Books. No. 036 Welcome to Catfish Bend about writer Ben Lucien Burman
The next earlier Tom Chaney essay, Literature and the plague
By Tom Chaney
Email: Tom Chaney firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to Catfish Bend
I don't like to give the impression that I am beholden to every writer who can find the 'on' button on a computer. So when Jesse Mountjoy suggested that I write about Ben Lucien Burman and his Catfish Bend stories, I was skeptical.
So I began to read Ben Lucien Burman to find out just who he is -- or was - he died in 1984 at the age of 88. The fact that I did not know anything about Burman is just a tribute to my massive ignorance - a condition which Brother Mountjoy will be quick to confirm.
Burman (born Behrman in Covington in 1895) was a journalist, writing for the Cincinnati Times-Star, Nation, Reader's Digest, and Saturday Review; a novelist, publishing two novels made into movies with Will Rogers in the 1930's; an essayist telling of life on the Mississippi River; and a fabulist.
It is as a fabulist that I wish to look at Burman this week. A fabulist creates a world peopled by animals which demonstrate human characteristics -- as in Aesop's Fables.
Doc Raccoon tells the story: "I don't need to tell you what a wonderful place we have here at Catfish Bend. We're all different kinds of animals living together but we get along fine. Once a month we have a meeting where the animals, like people, come to talk things over..."
At the close of one of the meetings, a beaver Doc knew came up from Alligator Point to report a fight amongst the animals there. The fight was over who should be the mayor of the Point. A fine looking greyhound had come up from Miami after he was caught cheating in a race. With his sleek looks and silver tongue, he had persuaded the folks at the Point to elect him as mayor over a turtle who had lived one hundred years in the community.
Doc takes Judge Black along to sort out the fight. Judge Black, fond of aphorisms, "A successful crime goes by the name of virtue," is a blacksnake who has become a vegetarian to help raise the image of snakes. Peace is restored.
The next day a frog from the Okefenokee swamp arrives to report a battle among the frogs and larger animals. Doc and the Judge, along with the Brahma bull, who is a guru, and a host of other animals head down the Mississippi to New Orleans and over to Okefenokee to bring the peace of Catfish Bend to the swamps.
The peacemakers are run out of the swamps after a battle between the alligators of Okefenokee and those of the Everglades.
Having failed in the south, they lick their wounds and head for New York. "With all the trouble the people were having there the animals would be the same way; they'd be needing our help the most."
They troop off up the Intercoastal canal to New York where they are met by a tough gang of raccoons and possums bent on keeping them from crossing the Hudson River.
Thoroughly whipped, the peacemakers from Catfish Bend head for a truck stop where they hitch a ride to Alaska. They fare no better in the frozen north than in the muggy south.
Finally they decide to withdraw and head south. "We've failed," said the raccoon. "Animals are as bad as people. There's nothing to do but go back to Catfish Bend."
But upon their return to the Mississippi the animals find Catfish Bend invaded by fire ants making the bend uninhabitable. At great cost, the peacemakers attack the ants, killing some and intimidating the others.
For a while the animals are content at home. Circus animals come for a visit and one calls it the "finest place he'd ever seen; Catfish Bend was Heaven." All the circus animals agreed.
A few days later the storyteller is talking to the Raccoon who explains that some small animals from Brazil report trouble with jaguars. "They asked us to come there and talk to the jaguars.... We're leaving tomorrow."
Burman wrote The Strange Invasion of Catfish Bend in 1979 after the end of the Vietnam War. Since he told the story of the animals traveling the world fighting for peace, we have all learned our lesson about making war to make peace.
Neither the raccoon nor the blacksnake could live in a hot desert.
Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
This story was posted on 2010-11-28 04:59:46
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.
To sponsor news and features on ColumbiaMagazine, please use our contact form.
More articles from topic Tom Chaney: Of Writers and Their Books:
Tom Chaney, A Cumberland Co., KY, Thanksgiving Story
Tom Chaney: No. 276. Literature and the plague
Tom Chaney: Think globally, act locally
Tom Chaney: CLOTEL, the first black novel
Tom Chaney: Doing History/Celebrating Feet of Clay
Tom Chaney: Friday night at the Strand
Tom Chaney. Review of Fall of the Giants, Ken Follett
Tom Chaney. The Hero Takes No Crap
Tom Chaney. Wade Hall: 200 Years of KY Writing
Tom Chaney No. 271: Conversations: Alan Vance at the Gallery
View even more articles in topic Tom Chaney: Of Writers and Their Books
Click for Info
Bank of Columbia
If You're Thinking of Selling,
Let Us Do the Yelling
Principal Broker & Auctioneer
Burton Real Estate
& Auction Service
Call Us For Appraisals
Click for Listings
On This Site
or Click Here
The Best of
Local Stories of
The Greatest Generation
Order Book or e-Book
See who's celebrating
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Special Events List
Find Great Stuff in
Antiques, Help Wanted,
Autos, Real Estate,
Legal Notices, More...
ColumbiaMagazine.com content is available as an RSS/XML feed for your RSS reader or other news aggregator.
Contact us: Columbia Magazine and columbiamagazine.com are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.