Call to Cambria
Call to Cambria
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I suppose you would call this a historical novel as well as a Christian one. It is partially based on true happenings, but written with the imagination of fiction. I used the place as setting and created the characters from a mixture of many of the people who lived there at the time. I lived twenty-six years in this small Welsh-American community and fell in love with the people and their music. Ever since, I wanted to write a story about it. So it came alive as I placed my own characters in a familiar setting.

Their traditional music is soul moving. I grew to love the hymns of their annual Gymanfa Ganu (Welsh Hymn Singing Festival). They really did raise money for a new organ and there were the usual arguments that any church would have. However, I wrote my own story to fit the characters I had developed and how they would act in the situation.

There was a blizzard that I lived through and was able to describe as I remembered it. Only one character is described visibly the same as one of my friends who is no longer alive, and that’s Tadcu, but he didn’t die like my character did, fortunately. I’m sure the Venedocia people will recognize Tadcu.

I wanted to tell a story of the Welsh immigrant, particularly of a time when their language was giving way to English and their identities as “pure-blooded Welsh” were waning; and I wanted to tell of the struggles that young women ministers have in establishing themselves in what has generally been accepted as a male profession. Megan is a strong woman, but she has to work hard at being who she wants to be and in this story she is, all the time, becoming.

Squire ambled across the street. He liked to feed Aycee a little meat to chew on every now and then.

"Mornin’ Aycee," he said tipping his cap.

"Squire," Aycee responded as Squire came toward him.

"Seen the new preacher yet?" asked Squire.

"Yup." Aycee answered cautiously and waited.

"Whaddya think?"

"Whadda you think?" Aycee tossed back.

"I like her. When did you see her?"

"Yestiday, when she come into town."


"Uh huh. She drove a red convertible, of all things. Watched her all the way through town." He saw Squire nod his head as if that seemed feasible.

"Well, of course, I’d met her when she come to interview so I struck up an easy conversation with her last night," Squire boasted. "She’s an interesting lady."

"How so?"

"Can’t tell ya. Sworn to secrecy ya know."


"Well, gotta get the misses some flour. See ya."

Squire moved past Aycee into the store. He hadn’t exactly told the truth but he was only teasing Aycee. It wouldn’t matter. Aycee snuffed his nose and waited.

When Squire came out, Aycee hopped up and grabbing him by the arm half whispered, "Listen here, Squire. If you got news, I’d love to know what ‘tis. Promise I won’t tell a soul."

"Aycee, you know I can’t do that." He pulled away.

"I promise, Squire. I know you know somethin’ about that preacher lady."

"Well, actually Aycee, it ain’t about her. It’s about a letter."

"Letter?" Aycee stood nose to nose with Squire now, his curiosity really aroused.

"Yeah." Squire paused just long enough to whet Aycee’s appetite. "There was a secret letter that David read. Didn’t say who it was from but it was real interestin'." He turned and walked toward his truck.

"A secret letter?" Aycee hop-skipped a few steps to catch up.

"Yup. Now Aycee, that’s all I can tell you." He opened the truck door and set the sack of flour on the seat and closed the door. Aycee grabbed his arm again.

"Come on, Squire, what did the letter say?"

"Can’t say."

"Who was it from?"

"Can’t tell ya," Squire broke loose and walked around to the driver’s side.

"Squire?" Aycee pleaded looking through the window.

"Nope." He climbed into his truck and looked back at Aycee. "Already told too much," he said and making a U-turn, drove north out of town wondering why he loved to tease people so. Especially Aycee, poor soul. He always seemed so vulnerable.

Aycee watched until Squire was out of sight and trotted across to the Post Office.

Bartie Jones lived 26 years in Venedocia, Ohio (the Welsh community about which she writes in Call to Cambria) where she served as Music Director of Salem Presbyterian Church. Her Welsh husband and she owned a farm and raised two daughters and a son.

Bartie has self-published eight poetry books and written inspirational articles for numerous publications. She has also received several awards and recognition for her poetry.

She received her bachelor’s degree in music with a minor in English from Heidelberg College. She taught music in the Bettsville and Spencerville, Ohio schools. More recently she was Office Manager of the Washington University Student YMCA/YWCA in St. Louis, where she now resides and currently serves as Poet and Sage for the American Youth Foundation’s Camp Miniwanca in Michigan each summer. This is her first novel.


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