YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Eleven Hanging Ten : A Family That Travels, Surfs Together Can Embrace Some Very Particular Values

July 22, 1987|BARBIE LUDOVISE | Times Staff Writer

Dorian Paskowitz , 66 , steps out of his camper, rubbing his eyes. Wearing only faded surf trunks and rubber thongs, Paskowitz climbs the short path to the bluff above San Onofre State Beach. There, he stares out at the million - dollar view. And there he sees what others do not: A self-styled mission of good will, born of the waves and the waters that storm in his soul.

"I truly believe that if we could somehow bring all (the world's fighting) people together, in the water, they'd make peace, and maybe become friends riding the waves together," he says .

For Paskowitz, surfing is joy . Since he fell in love with it at age 16, Paskowitz has nurtured that love.

He has even passed his love for surfing--and spreading good will with it--on to his nine children.

"When I start a family, I want a house," said Israel Paskowitz, 24. "Yeah, I want a house. I want to put trees in a yard and have a big kitchen. But I definitely want a house. And stability. I don't think I'm a part of the regular routine, but I've got to have a house."

Israel will have his house. Being the fourth-born of Dorian's children--eight boys, one girl--Israel will be the first married, to Danielle Brawner on Saturday.

After the wedding, the couple will move into a one-bedroom home in Capistrano Beach. The house is an add-on to the home of Danielle's parents, and though quite compact, it is a mansion when compared with the home in which Israel grew up.

"Up to 75% of our lives was spent in a compartment 96 inches wide, 78 inches high and 20 feet long," Dorian said. "We figured it out. For each child, there was three cubic feet in which to grow up."

Their home was a big blue camper with white-striped sides and a large red Paskowitz painted over the right rear tire.

In it, the Paskowitz family roamed more than 300,000 miles, ranging from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to Block Island, R.I., to the Mediterranean-splashed shores of Egypt, Israel and Lebanon.

They visited Waimea, Puako and Kailua, Hawaii; Galveston, Corpus Christi and South Padre Island, Tex.; Lantana, Daytona and Jacksonville, Fla.; Cape Hatteras, N.C.; Florence and Norfolk, Va., and . . . Today, many of the Paskowitz children return to a longtime family favorite, San Onofre State Beach, where, for the last 14 summers, they have run the Paskowitz Surfing Camp, attended by young people from around the world.

They are a family of devoted surfers--Israel is the world's No. 1-rated longboard rider--who have been guided by Dorian, a self-styled family doctor who has lived outside the regular routine.

The Paskowitzes traveled their own world, and, no matter what their destination, their goals were to live modestly, eat simply and surf wherever and whenever possible. Years of school, scouts, and Little League were replaced by beaches, surfing and the Paskowitz surf team.

"Some of my earliest memories are the feelings I had going somewhere new all the time," Israel said. "Surfing the East Coast, surfing New Jersey, waking up to the sound of the car starting every morning. I found it all so comfortable, so soothing, being off to somewhere new. It was fantastic for us."

For the children, David, now 28; Jonathan, 26; Abraham, 25; Israel; Moses, 22; Adam, 21; Salvador-Daniel, 20; Navah, 18, and Joshua-Ben, 12, the camper was home sweet home through most of their growing years. Only David had experienced an even smaller home--his parents' 1949 Studebaker, in which he spent his first two years.

The camper, though designed to sleep four, crowded all nine children among the rear bed, side couch, front seat, table and floor. The twin bed in the overhang above the driver's seat served as the master suite for Dorian and his wife, Juliette.

On the roof, stacks of up to 20 surfboards proclaimed their passion. Bolted to the rear bumper, a cage housed Nimrod, the family dog, a husky-coyote mix.

It was yards away from the camper, in the warm or cool or sometimes freezing waters, that the children and their father spent most their time, developing their balance and superb water abilities. In the more than 100 surf contests they entered, 8 or 9 of the top 10 trophies often went home to the camper.

"We blew people away," Moses said of a 1973 contest on South Padre Island. "The waves were 10 feet or more, and here we were, a bunch of rowdy little kids, taking on the big local surfers and beating them. They couldn't believe it."

Competition was not without sacrifice, however. Dorian insisted that his children make friends wherever they went and try to pass on a spirit of good will and brotherhood.

"We were a band of roving, surfing gypsies," Abraham said. "But we had a message for everyone we met."

Often, that message was lost on those who thought, by first and often only impressions, that the Paskowitz clan was nothing but a moving circus, a sorry, uneducated bunch of youths whose parents must be crazy to let them live their lives outside the normal environment.

Los Angeles Times Articles