Ray Alvarez enjoyed a burlesque performance by Creamy Stevens last Saturday evening. His friends hired the dancer for his 75th birthday.
Egg creams and a Creamy dance for Avenue As Ray
By Christopher J. Ryan
Seventy-five years old
50 more to go! So said Ray Alvarez, proprietor of Rays Candy Shop on Avenue A as he watched Creamy Stevens strip off her clothes in honor of his 75th birthday. Her high heels clicked away on Rays well-worn counter as her white-gloved hands touched the ornate tin ceiling for balance.
The soda shops customers enjoyed the burlesque tassels that spun with skill perhaps only a 75-year-old egg cream jockey could truly appreciate.
Two dogs and one $3 French fries, stated an inebriated young man, getting more of a show than he bargained for before grabbing some food to take to his friends in a nearby bar. Rays tiny sliver of a store, located between Seventh and Eighth Sts., overlooks Tompkins Square Park and has been serving hot dogs and egg creams for longer than even the most hardcore, old-school Alphabet City crowd can remember.
Ray remembers when Avenue A was considered the German Broadway, long before it evolved into its current status as a hipster highway. Yet Ray and his classic New York shop still have the power to draw them in. His hallmarks are plentiful portions of tasty fries and hotdogs heaped with extra cheese sauce and chili all at prices appreciated by squatters and drunk young professionals alike.
Gone are the winos and junkies who would line the stools for 10 to 12 hours a day.
I got rid of them by getting rid of the stools, joked Ray. But still in place is Rays tiny, shelf-like perch, where he sits and watches the continuous action of Avenue A. Ray tells a story of when he saw A black guy lock his bike to the meter right there and walk away. Then some white guy comes over and lifts the bike off the meter! I yell and cause a fuss and get a police officer. The police come, and they handcuff the black guy! I had to set them straight.
When asked about the steady stream of beautiful Polish girls who have worked the soda counter Ray explained, The first one got her green card thanks to me and the shop, so she told all her friends. Then they kept comin. Many of them are now citizens. One came in other day. She was so old, I didnt recognize her!
So Friday night was a full house at Rays some people coming in for the birthday cake and their favorite-flavor egg cream, others tasting their first egg cream ever. All enjoyed the near nudity, old neighborhood stories and the ridiculously tight quarters that are difficult to imagine being able to accommodate anything other than Ray.