“Catfish Days’’ book signing March 16 at Fairhope Legion
Point Clear resident Mike McCall will sign first edition copies of his book, “Catfish Days – From Belzoni to the Big Apple,” at American Legion Post 199 at 600 Mobile St. in Fairhope on Thursday, March 16, at the American Legion Post 199 Hall on Scenic 98 in Fairhope from 4-6 p.m.
A veteran newspaper reporter and editor, McCall has been editor of The Catfish Journal for 25 years. “Catfish Days” chronicles the rise, fall and survival of one of America’s most unique businesses in the last 100 years.
In the second half of the 20th century, eager investors, from city slickers to country folks, and others poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the southern United States to build catfish farms, processing plants, and infrastructure.
Likened to the California Gold Rush of a century earlier, raising catfish was seen as a panacea for a down economy – even easy money. More than 180,000 acres of catfish ponds were built and stocked in the Mississippi Delta and neighboring states, as an obliging news media served up the feel-good story like an all-you-can-eat buffet.
“Catfish Days” covers the catfish farming industry’s rough and tumble early days, in Alabama and Arkansas, before pushing into the rich Mississippi Delta, and beyond.
Along the way, a colorful cast of characters, celebrities and politicians emerged to bask in the heyday, then quietly slipped away when ship loads of cheap, imported fish from Asia reached U.S. shores and quickly dominated the market. Almost overnight, an industry was in full retreat, taking with it thousands of jobs from the South’s poorest regions.