Andalusia, Spain. Andalusia, Alabama. History holds their past together. Their present is brought together under the watchful and talented pen of local author, Annie Champa.
She was herself born in Alabama and is very familiar with the stories that have been passed down from generation to generation about the Creek Indian tribes, President Andrew Jackson and the struggles and tribulations of the journey from Spain to America.
In her book Three Notches of Destiny she chronicles the journey of an Appalucian Padre and the Creek community. It combines a seemingly hopeless love saga with an historical accounting of the Indian slaves, princesses, battles and victories.
There is no doubt that reading this book will give you both immense pleasure and great insight into this period of our American history. The book leaves you hoping for the sequel - there are questions that need to be answered.
One has only to read the opening chapters to become so completely engrossed with the characters as to emphatically care about their future and the outcome of their mounting problems.
What kind of woman could write a historical novel with such heart and feeling? Annie Champa is one such lady.
She is the wife of Bernie Champa and the two of them make a delightful couple filled with adventures and talents most people only read about.
They have traveled the world together and in each place have taken a little of the history and customs home with them. Their beautiful home is filled with reminders of these trips and make for interesting discussions.
It was at a Folk Festival in Virginia that Bernie picked up a 1975 National Geographic Magazine with a story about Andalusia, Spain. They were intrigued by the "coincidence" of sharing a name with a town so near Annie's birthplace and Bernie advised her to "write something about that".
The thought of the two cities took on a life of it's own and Annie began doing research and taking classes. She had once been told, "Find a legend and get to the bottom of it".
That's what she set out to do, and indeed, that is what she did. Almost nine years later her research and hard work was finished with the publication of this wonderful book.
As a child, her father owned land, which, even though it was in a town, had cows and chickens.
Quite often her brothers would find Indian arrowheads on the land, but they placed no value on them. "Now" she says " I understand the history and what those arrowheads stand for and I would value them for that."
Bernie knew Annie "always had a flair for writing" and that she could accomplish anything she set her mind to and he supported her fully during this endeavor.
Bernie was born in Northern Minnesota and is a retired mechanical engineer. He would like someday to write a book about Fred Crawford, founder of Thompson Products and, of course, the Crawford Auto Museum.
Annie is equally supportive of Bernie and together they have taken on many interesting projects.
Both play the dulcimer and in fact started a Dulcimer Club at the Euclid Library.
They also made the dulcimers they play, including a hammered dulcimer, which they made all of the hammers for. It has a beautiful lined case that Bernie made. Their group now performs in various venues and have become quite good.
They are currently taking courses in Great Russian short stories. They will be at the Ohio Bicentennial Celebration in Painesville in May and the Little Mountain Festival in July.
They have taken classes in stained glass, as is evidenced by pieces throughout their home. They took a basket weaving class in which they were given a 6 ' log of white oak, which they had to split into pieces to be woven.
Annie also refinishes furniture. There is an old icebox and table that used to be on Bernie's front porch that now graces their home with Annie's touches and refinishing prowess.
Annie's father was a great influence on her. He had a wonderful talent in the timber business and a great respect for the forest and those things nature provided. As a result,
healthy eating and cooking are also very important to Annie. She shops every three days to insure the freshest of produce.
She admits, however, that there are two kinds of food in her house - Bernie's and hers. Bernie is not quite as concerned with the healthy side of food as he is the taste!
Annie is very thankful for all of the things she has been given and experienced. She wants to share her good fortune and give back something to people. She loves to talk to people, and she really listens to what they have to say. Bernie is quick to point out that Annie "always has something nice to say about everybody she encounters"
Annie and Bernie are both animal lovers. Last June, when they returned home from a Festival in Greensboro they found a beautiful young cat waiting for them on their steps. Of course they couldn't send her away and today, "Jenny" is a very important part of their lives.
Annie practices what she taught and looks for new friends and new challenges every day.
The one thing she says she can't do is sing. She likes to think of her attempts as what the Bible calls "Joyful noises". When I get to heaven the first thing I'm going to say is "Please, let me sing!"
Three Notches of Destiny is a wonderful saga involving two continents and a cast of many interesting characters. Its author is living her own wonderful saga and also has a tremendous cast of characters, not the least of which is her charming husband, Bernie.
The Annie Champa story is far from over. She has done so much, and has so much left she wants to do.
If you have the opportunity get to know this amazing lady, you will be enriched for the effort.