My step mother wrote that she’s about to go on vacation with her grandchildren, to a lovely resort by the Mediterranean Sea. She asked about my childhood experiences in that very resort, where I spend a week every summer until I was twelve or so.
The name of the resort, Nachsholim, was then called Tantura. That was the name of the Arab village nearby, which has been leveled since then. When I was little (before 1967) there were many more abandoned Arab villages, standing empty since 1948, and in ruins. They stood as testament to who was once there. At some point most of the ruins disappeared as well, and they are no more.
The Kibbutz itself, which ran the vacation resort, is nearby. The accommodations were much more modest than they are now. Guests paid very little to stay in the original Kibbutz wood huts, and eat three meals a day in the original old communal dining room. I remember frogs in the shower, lots of them. There was no hot water, and the frogs frolicked in maniacal dances on the unfinished cement floors.
In the earlier years, until I was seven, my father was still with us. I remember that we had to take the old train from Jerusalem, and get off in what looked like the middle of nowhere. Then an old kibbutznik would come with a horse and carriage. Not the chivalrous kind you see in New York’s Central Park, but an old creaking hard carriage with an even older horse. I remember sitting in front and watching the horse defecate as we rode. They do it while walking, unlike a cat or a dog, who have the sense to stop when they have to go.
I also remember the nightly entertainment. I really looked forward to “Movie Night.” The “theater” was a white sheet hung from the trees. We sat under the stars and watched a projector screening onto it. If we were lucky, the projector didn't burn the film too many times and we got to see the whole movie to the end. Once, when the ending was too damaged, the kibbutznik who sat at the projector got up and told us the rest of the story.
Other nights there was communal folk dancing, or a magician, or a live singer. I remember one soprano who sang classical repertoire and was accompanied by a pianist. My father’s comment later was that if the singer could have been one tenth as good as the pianist, we might have been able to call it a real concert.
I also remember the really bad sunburn I always got the first day. No one heard of sunscreens then, and instead they coated us with tanning oils. Needless to say, with my complexion, real tanning was not going to happen.
We went there every summer that I can remember, until they changed to fancier accommodations and my mother didn't like the new prices or the new arrangements. I actually didn't, either. We did it the new-and-improved way only once. I was probably twelve then. I missed the “pioneer” feeling of the old huts. Like the village, Tantura was no more.
It seems impoverished as I think of it now, but I loved it all. My mother was more relaxed, and it was a happy time.
I thanked my stepmother for reminding me of those days, and wished her a delightful time by the sea. Her grandkids, my niece and nephew, will build their own lovely memories of the place, and their days with her.