No, this isn’t a series on the Kezner family. But if I hadn’t interviewed Larry Kezner’s cousin Llance last issue, Larry’s name would never have jumped out at me from a Seattle Times piece announcing Larry’s small-boat passenger ferry connecting Seattle’s South Lake Union and University Districts.
“Captain Larry” has piloted the Sunday “Ice Cream Cruise” around Seattle’s Lake Union for years (with hot chocolate and tomato soup in winter).
The 30-ton vessel, used for parties and charters the rest of the time, is busiest in December following the Christmas ships and with holiday parties.
The Seattle native mostly runs the business himself with a small crew and some administrative help. “Marketing and maintenance are the two big things,” he says.
Water transportation “catches people’s imagination,” he says. “People see that it doesn’t take roads, bridges, tunnels. The infrastructure is minimal,” reminding passengers of life 100 years ago.
Growing up in Seattle’s Madison Park, Larry’s family moved to Shoreline, where he attended high school. A ham radio enthusiast who built his own equipment, his first job was with the Coast and Geodetic Survey, the precursor to NOAA. A long career in marine electronics ensued, punctuated by Merchant Marine service during the Vietnam War and starting and selling a business building long-range radios.
In 1999 he felt finished with indoor work, asking himself, “What am I going to do that is fun?”
Acquiring his captain’s license, he worked for Argosy Tours, which was so much fun he decided he needed his own boat.
He found a cute one, he said, “but it was in Cleveland.” So he had it cut up and trucked here — “30 tons of steel down the road,” he said —and a business was born.
Larry’s new ferries, Mocha and Espresso, are small, open boats, so service runs from spring through early fall. You can see pictures and get more information at www.seattleferryservice.com. Ice Cream Cruise guests, by the way, are welcome to bring food and drink on board, and enjoy the ride while following dietary restrictions.
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Insomniacs with a hankering for useless information rejoice! Bruce Caplan’s got you covered. (Photo: Courtesy Bruce Caplan)
Quick, a trivia question: what Seattle-area parking lot entrepreneur hosts a late-night radio show?
If this was (answer, please!) Bruce Caplan’s show, you would have heard this as an audio clip. Bruce says he’s learned to rely on audio trivia for “Radio Trivia” on KIXI AM, because trivia questions are so easily answered on the Internet.
The show, airing at 1 a.m. Sundays (or any time at www.radiotrivia.com), is a must for old radio buffs, as is his Crime Club in the prior hour. Both feature old-time radio shows with interviews, Hollywood anecdotes, and trivia contests.
Recording the show in a spare bedroom in his and his wife Esther’s home means he can sleep at night, but Arbitron ratings indicate about 2,000 listeners at air time.
“There are a lot of insomniacs out there,” Bruce observes.
A man of many avocations, Bruce is well known as a Titanic expert and author of The Sinking of the Titanic. The book, a compilation of interviews published three weeks after the ship sank, was in the public domain when Bruce got it as a gift. Finding it fascinating, but “sloppy,” he acquired the rights and rewrote it, correcting facts, removing archaic and racist language, and reissued it in 1996.
One year later, the blockbuster film Titanic was released. The next day the book “got 10,000 orders.” It’s now in its eighth printing.
Bruce is the resident expert at Titanic events and exhibits around the country and lectures on cruise ships (Caribbean routes) and at our own Stroum Jewish Community Center. The 69-year-old retiree, who still consults in the parking industry, is busier now than ever.
A Garfield High School grad — both his parents went there, too — attended University of Washington (Sigma Alpha Mu) and has a long family history in the area. One grandfather came for the Gold Rush and appears in Seattle’s 1903 Polk directory. His family includes B. Marcus (Benny) Priteca, architect of Chevra Bikur Holim (now Langston Hughes Arts Center) and the Alhadeff Sanctuary of Temple De Hirsch Sinai, where Bruce’s family belonged (he now goes to Shevet Achim on Mercer Island).
“I’m fascinated with…old radio,” admits Bruce, who is working to filter static out of old recordings he hopes to air.
“I even want to do the Jews of radio comedy,” he says. “It’s a great avocation, that and writing, then traveling.”