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"A Tale about a Catfish," #129 Swapping Stories
Sarah Kent, Greensburg, Louisiana


My poor old Uncle Paul. He was the biggest storyteller. I have to tell this. Uncle Paul was the [outlaw] of the family, and he was a big tall tale teller. And a huge man he was. With all of his meanness, people forgave him. That's one of the nice things about St. Helena, people go on and like one another. But he was maybe just six one or six two [in height], but his ankles were like that [gestures], and his wrists were like that [gestures]. He told big tall tales.

Anyway, he was in town one day. Cal Bankston told me this story. He told me he heard Uncle Paul tell it. Somebody had a catfish. It was a huge catfish, maybe twenty-four, twenty-five pounds. He was looking at it, and he said, "Well, that's a big fish. But I tell you, it's not as big as a fish I saw the other day."

He said that he and his mule were walking in from logging and thought it was a cloud over the river. He saw this black shape. He looked up, and it wasn't any clouds. He got to looking, and he said, "That's a big fish down there!"

He got to looking, and he decided that he would lasso [that fish. He did, and] he and the mule started pulling, pulling on the fish. And he had to let go. He said, "Well, folks, I never did see that fish. But I think it was bigger than this one." Said, "It pulled my mule in the river and drowned it!"


Notes to the Teacher: AT 1960B, The Great Fish (X1301). Ancelet (1994, 64) has a Cajun version; see also Lonnie Gray's tales #26 and #27 in this collection, as well as #130 by A. J. Smith.

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