Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Making Memories

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.
©Shelagh Duffett

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.


Vijaya said...

Mirka, you paint beautiful word-pictures, and the frogs in the shower make me smile.

Anonymous said...

In reading this, it felt like I was there with you. Love the maniacal frolicking frogs. Sadly, so many deeply-felt places can only be visited in our memories now.

Kelly Hashway said...

It sounds like a much simpler time and that usually makes for happier memories. At least that's been my experience. :)

Evelyn said...

I love hearing about your childhood memories, dear friend. I like the simplicity of your vacation time. Very different from many vacations planned these days, when you feel exhausted by the time they're over. I, too, went to the beach each summer with my family when I was growing up. My grandparents lived there and we stayed with them in their cottage. Lots of happy memories.

Hava Rembrand said...

Funny how we remember so well the few vacations we went on as children. They seem to be a much larger percentage of what we remember from our childhood than other times.
The current beach resort at Nachsolim is still very basic. Round "igloo" huts with cement floors, simple beds and a tiny kitchenette. Outside there are picnic tables. The beach is still lovely with soft sand. I loved your description of the movies at night.
I used to love going to see movies at our kibbutz because during the movie everyone had something to say and the comments were often hilarious. Whenever the projector broke down everyone yelled "Katzman", the kibbutz electrician, and he would come to mend it. We used to watch basketball games on the small black and white TV in the communal dining room. I never watched the game, just the spectators. These days are long gone as are most aspects of communal living. I enjoyed going down memory lane with you very much, thanks.

Leandra Wallace said...

What neat memories. Like Vijaya said, you painted a beautiful pic. Though I'd have been squealing over the frogs- never was a fan. Except in picture books. The real ones can just stay far away. =)

Crystal Collier said...

Wow. What an incredible experience! The frogs on the shower floor got me. My kids would freak out about that and adopt a few of them. I can't even imagine the sunburn from day one! Whew!

Unleashing the Dreamworld