Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ray's in Cement

The morning sun is just starting to rise above Avenue A and the homeless are waking from their drunken stupors in Tompkins Square Park. Beautiful young families, parents around thirty and a baby in a stroller, are walking through the park and I am walking alone, free to admire them.

I start to feel hungry so I wander across Ave. A and walk into Ray's Candy Store for perhaps an egg cream and a beignet. There is no line. Ray hands me an egg cream and the shop starts to go dark. I look out the window and see huge trucks covering the building with cement. Ray yells at the top of his lungs "get down here with me" as he opens up a hatch into a cellar. I hop over the counter and climb down the ladder and turn around at the bottom, seeing a group of 5 or 6 people. About half of the group was Native American and the other half were Dutch, like Peter Minuit and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. They welcomed and hugged us and said "You didn't think it would last forever, did you?" I suppose they were right.

--Victor B. (age 15)


  1. victor
    thats a a sad dream!!!
    god willing ray will be here for a long long time!!!
    we have known ray for 40 years now

    kim {a worker at rays candy store

  2. Why did you scare the crap out of me? No place symbolizes the old E. Vill quite the way Ray's does. I love taking visitors by the Big Gay Ice Cream Store around the corner. I show them the affected verbiage on their descriptions of their product, the line down the street, explain the ridiculous pricing. Then we go to Ray's and have a cone of soft serve for $3 instead of $6 or $7. I once had a BGIC cone. You pay for sprinkles or coating whether or not you elect to have them, I seem to remember. It's kind of an all in pricing in place there. At Ray's you know you're supporting something valuable and ephemeral. I haven't had one visitor opt for the line and expense of BGIC over Ray's, and not because they want to please me. They get that it's an aesthetic choice. Being in Ray's, reading the old Villager & Village Voice articles about the place, one gets a sense of context, that this is a place that has survived in an area that largely has not, at least in its original form.