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
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.