Meet Jerry Ceis. Jerry holds many titles in life, every one of them more dubious than the last. He is one of the most legendary of the Seafair pirates, a highly accomplished sailor and general roustabout. One of my absolute favorite stories of all time stems directly from him but it cant be repeated in print, lest I never live down the day it was born…..
Jerry is first and foremost a skipper, an outlaw of the seas but he is also a friend, someone who i spend a fair amount of time with and whom I admire.
An excerpt from stories regarding Capn’ Jerry as a Seafair pirate:
Port Townsend always seems to have a Kenny Baker story surrounding it. A couple of the wilder pirates – Kenny and Jerry Ceis – would always be dreaming up something big to do. One of their great ideas was to have a fight up on the top deck of the Duck. Then the captain would fire the shotgun and one of the guys would fall dead into a net that was behind the Duck. One of the duties of the candidates was to hold the net and catch the guy who was falling.
The show went perfectly in Port Townsend. There was only one problem. Kenny didn’t bother telling anyone that he was going to do this stunt. So when he fell off the Duck, he smashed right into the pavement. There was no net. One of the guys had to rush him off to the hospital as we continued bravely on in the parade. We were very concerned about Kenny, of course. At the next bar we toasted him, had the appropriate moment of silence and said how much we would miss him.
Kenny didn’t die of course. None of us did back then. We sincerely believed we were immortal and unstoppable. We could all do the dumbest things in the world and come bouncing back to life. “
Jerry himself tells a tale of such skullduggery that its almost unbelievable….in fact, it is unbelievable if you dont know the guy and havent heard it a hundred times but the story goes along somewhat like this:
(if you know/can find the official report send it my way, Ive never seen it).
One dark and drunken night high above the city streets were Jerry Ceis and a few handpicked pirate cronies at the Space Needle; Jerry had been drinking heavily in anticipation of his plan which involved the Seafair pirates flag which upon comencement of said caper, he mounted (somehow) the very top of the dias that rests upon the needle and proceeded to swap out old Glory herself for the Pirate skull and bones in honor of the forthcoming legendary Pirate Landing that helps kick off Seafair in Seattle. His story includes choppers circling the needle as he hoisted the flag into the angry, restless winds, news crews filming the event as well as cops on bullhorns reminding him rudely in the middle of the job as to the exact nature of the consequences of such a thing…..none of this stopping the salty bastard of course, in fact seeming to invigorate his fiery soul he secured the flag in no time much to the citys officials chagrin. At this moment in time his brother Tim Ceis was not yet deputy mayor, as he is now. Jerry stands by this tale of outlaw hellraising enough to make it an acceptable event regardless the missing news articles.
At any rate Jerry is the skipper below, adorned with white beard and pink tee. The poetry is Robert Service, as narrated by Jerry Ceis himself on his spoken word album: “Ceis Stories”. If you want the album let me know, they are $10 ea. and there are plenty to go around. I have had it for a couple years and I still listen to him growl out his stories and recite poetry from times better than these.
This footage was shot in early June when i first started playing around with filming etc etc…..I had to edit alot in this project and frankly I did this more for Jerry than anything, he will get a huge kick out of it Im sure. His boat set to his spoken word, for an old timer that has to be a thrill. Lift your glass with whatver you have right now, and salute the old Sea Captain.