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The Cresta Adventure
by Ruth Abramson
Arrival at Cresta
The Cresta Museum
An Underground Journey
A Visit to the Convalescent Home
Friday at the Rubins
Shabbos in Cresta
The Museum Again
The Kerrar Sapphire
The End of the Story
Arrival at Cresta
LEA GREENBERG peered through the
window and watched the tracks running into one
another alongside the train. They had been travel-
ing for over two hours but she wasn't bored. She
enjoyed watching the changing landscape, and in
another hour and a half they would see the ocean.
Just ten minutes after that, they would reach their
She glanced at her mother who had fallen asleep
over a book. Gently she removed the book from her
mother's hand, carefully marking her place. Then
she bent over and kissed her cheek. Lea loved her
mother dearly. When her father had died two years
before, mother and daughter had clung to each
other for comfort and had remained close ever since.
Lea's gaze wandered through the train car and
fell upon the young couple sitting opposite her. The
label on their luggage told her that the man's name
was Kevin Tracy. His wife, whose straight blonde
hair hung to her shoulders, was absentmindedly
pushing a baby carriage to and fro. Lea eyed the
young woman's hair enviously and ran her fingers
through her own short brown curls. Curls were all
right, but to have them all over one's head was just
What a pity I got Daddy's hair instead of Mom's,
she thought, glancing at her mother's neat page-
boy. I think I'll wear a wig when I get married
anything to get rid of this mop. She sighed and
shifted her gaze to the woman's husband. He was
tall, with brown hair and brown eyes. At the begin-
ning of the ride, the couple had been talking animat-
edly, and their baby, who was blonde like his
mother, had gurgled happily along. Now that the
baby was asleep, and the couple had lapsed into
silence, all was quiet in the train car.
Lea turned back to the window. The train seemed
to be going faster and faster until the tracks were
nothing more than a glinting blur
"Look, Lea, there's the sea!" She awoke with a
start. Her mother was leaning over her and point-
ing excitedly through the window. Lea looked and
both of them sat watching the white-crested waves
lapping at the sand.
"Okay, artist, here's your subject for this
summer," laughed her mother. Lea glanced toward
the bright red knapsack that held her art supplies.
She remembered her excitement at hearing her
mother's plans for their vacation.
"It's a quiet little seaside village," Mrs. Green-
berg had said.
"Is the hotel nice?" Lea had asked eagerly.
"There isn't even a hotel only some holiday
cottages. I've rented one for the two of us."
Lea took a deep breath of sea air and sighed with
satisfaction. In the past years they had been to
noisy hotels in busy holiday resorts where the
beaches were crowded and one had to fight for even
a small space. They had both felt it was time to go to
a different kind of place for their vacation.
Cresta seemed to be the ideal place. It was quiet
coastal village with only a few shops along a cen-
tral street. It did not even had a proper railroad
station; there was just a small siding.
Besides the cottages, there was a camping site for
tents and trailers. There was no real post office, her
mother explained, only a postbox. But oddly
enough, stamps were sold at the drapery store,
along with all kinds of lovely fabrics. For anything
more complicated, one had to take the train two
stations further to the town of Wepping which,
although larger than Cresta, was not much more
than a park compared to the city where the Green-
Cresta also had a small convalescent home for
people recovering from various illnesses or acci-
dents. And surprising, for such a tiny village, there
was a museum, situated at the top of a hill. As Lea
sat looking out the window, the sea disappeared
from sight, blocked by tree-covered hills. They were
While her mother pulled their suitcases out from
under the seat, and Lea climbed up to get the bags
and boxes from the rack above their heads, the
couple across the aisle watched them.
They're obviously not getting off at Cresta, Lea
thought, but at one of the later stations.
When the train stopped, Lea and her mother
quickly disembarked, dragging their luggage after
them. They stood for a few minutes at the siding,
looking around and wondering where they were
supposed to go.
"Let's look in there," Lea said, pointing to a small
wooden shelter. They approached the shelter and
were relieved to find a little sign that said "Ring for
Taxi". They rang twice and waited.
A few minutes later a battered Ford pulled up and
the driver, an old man, got out.
"Seaside cottages?" he asked with a friendly
smile as he helped load their luggage into the trunk.
They nodded and he drove them along a winding
road that encircled the mountain. "That's the
museum up there," he said pointing to the top of the
mountain, "and now we're heading towards the sea.
Great swimming. And terrific caves too, if you like
that sort of thing."
"Caves?" Lea asked.
"Yup," the driver answered, "they're all over
She was about to ask him more when a row of
quaint, delightful cottages came into view, driving
everything else from Lea's mind.
"Number five, please," her mother said, and they
got out of the taxi in front of one of the smaller
cottages. The rusty Ford and its driver disappeared
into the distance. They stood for a moment looking
at the cottage, a neat white structure with a red
sloping roof. A tiny flowerbed was tucked in near
the front steps and the branches of a tall shade tree
in the garden swayed with the light sea breeze.
"It's like a picture in a book," whispered Lea.
None of the resorts or hotels they'd ever stayed at
had looked like this.
The Greenbergs dragged their luggage inside.
They were delighted to find that the inside was as
charming as the outside. There was a small lounge/
dining room and an efficient-looking kitchen, a
bathroom and a bedroom. A door in the bedroom led
to a cozy sleeping alcove, where Lea thought she'd
be quite comfortable. All about the cottage, sunlight
streamed through gaily-colored curtains on the
"Simple but beautiful," her mother said looking
"I'll make you a cup of coffee, Mom," Lea offered.
"We have to kasher the kitchen first," her mother
"We don't know who used it last year. Maybe
there was pork and all kinds of treif food on the
counters... treif dishes in the sink. This was new to
Lea. The other summers they had eaten in kosher
"How do we make it kosher?" she asked.
"We'll have to scrub everything until it's perfectly
clean. Then we pour boiling water on the sink and
countertops and heat the stove until the grate is
"Whew!" Lea said, a few hours later. "I'm
exhausted!" They had cleaned most of the cottage,
unpacked, and had just finished kashering the
"That was harder than I thought it would be,"
said Lea wiping her forehead. They had struggled
to lift heavy pots of boiling water and Lea had
nearly scalded herself. Water had splashed onto the
kitchen floor, leaving muddy brown puddles for
them to clean up afterwards.
Mrs. Greenberg sank wearily into a chair. Lea
brought her some coffee and cookies on a tray.
"All kosher, Mom. What a good feeling!"
"Thanks, Lea," her mother said, sipping the cof-
fee. It certainly is a good feeling. Ah, this coffee is a
"Why don't you lie down and rest a little, Mom?"
"Not now, Lea. I want to buy a few things we need
from the shops." They set off with a long list.
Although the shops were small, they seemed to
carry almost everything one could wish for. Lea and
her mother were fascinated by the General Store.
They looked around and realized how appropriate
the name was. They saw food, clothing, dishes, fur-
niture, photographic equipment, books, toys and
A middle-aged lady greeted them with a warm
smile. "I'm Mrs. Peabody," she said, "Welcome to
Cresta. It's the perfect place for a quiet holiday.
You'll be happy to know that there are other chil-
dren who will be coming here, though. I think a few
families are arriving tomorrow."
Lea was about to ask her if she knew whether any
girls her own age would be coming, when she
noticed that Mrs. Peabody suddenly seemed very
agitated. She was looking nervously towards a man
who had just walked into the shop. Lea followed her
gaze, and a slight shiver ran down her spine. The
man was smiling, but the smile didn't reach his
eyes, which were the coldest blue she had ever seen.
"No, Mr. White, I haven't got that shoemaker's
awl yet. I ordered it a while ago, but it hasn't arrived
yet..." she faltered. The man's smile disappeared.
He gave Mrs. Peabody an icy stare, and without a
word, turned and stalked away.
"These people expect me to do the impossible,"
Mrs. Peabody muttered. "A shoemaker's awl! Came
in here complaining that there isn't a decent shoe-
maker in the whole area and he has to fix his shoes
himself," she sniffed. "What's good enough for us
should be good enough for him." She then seemed to
realize that Mrs. Greenberg wanted to ask her the
prices of certain items and hurried back to her. "Mr.
White came to live in Wepping a couple of months
ago," she explained. "I wonder why."
For nothing good, I'll bet, thought Lea to herself,
remembering those threatening eyes. I've never
seen such a mean-looking person. They bought
what they needed and walked home carrying their
"Let's take a little walk on the beach and then go
to bed early," Mrs. Greenberg suggested. "We've
really done enough for one day all the packing
and preparations, the long train ride, then making
the kitchen kosher." They strolled along the sandy
white beach and watched an orange sun sink into
the shimmering water. They were almost the only
people on the beach. ..........
They looked at the glistening expanse of sea
before them and at a sky painted with the brilliant
colors of the setting sun. Comforted by the beauty
surrounding them, they returned to their cottage.
.....end of sample selection
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