By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
July 9, 2014
If you’re a fan of Lake Ozark and everything that is the Lake of the Ozarks, then you’ve no doubt seen the Larry-Don plying the waters of the lake, ferrying sight-seeing tours along the almost 1,400 miles of shoreline on a daily basis.
This week’s postcard, “The ‘Larry-Don’ Excursion Boat, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri” was published by the Corwin News Agency of Jefferson City, Mo. The description on the back of the card states: “The newest and largest excursion boat on the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, the ‘Larry-Don’ is an excellent ship with a capacity of 200 persons. Covering an area of 65,000 acres, the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks is 130 miles long with a shore line of 1,372 miles.”
Originally commissioned by Lawrence Fry and built in 1949, the Larry-Don is the longest serving passenger boat in the lake region. The Larry-Don was, according to local legend, built of parts from scrapped World War II LCTs and LSTs (Landing Craft, Infantry and Landing Ship, Tank). It was quartered in St. Louis and trucked the 150 miles to the lake. The boat is named for Mr. Fry’s son, Larry, and his nephew, Don. The pleasure craft underwent extensive modifications in the 1960s and now boasts a cover over the second deck, complete with sliding glass windows to keep inclement weather at bay. A “new” third “sun deck” was added to increase capacity at the same time.
The boat has been a popular place for couples to tie the knot; back in the day, if you were wed on the Larry-Don, you received a lucky horseshoe inscribed with the Larry-Don name and “Good Luck.” Recently the Captain Larry-Don and the company that operates the craft from Casino Pier have fallen on hard times. The Captain Larry-Don, according to sources at Tom Sawyer Paddlewheel Cruises (next door to Casino Pier), hasn’t cruised for most of the summer. Her sister ship, “The Commander,” is reportedly in dry dock, too, and being inspected by the Coast Guard for invasive zebra mussels.