From the Villager:
After leaving Bullet Space, we ducked into Ray’s Candy Store to get out of the gale-force snowstorm and warm up our nearly frostbitten feet. Sadly, we learned that Ray’s business is really down — Belgian fries are at just one-tenth of their usual sales — and that he’s struggling to pay his $4,000 rent this month. It’s the recession, people are just spending less, he said. Actually, he said, this is the first time since he bought the hole-in-the-wall store in 1974 that he’s never paid his rent on the first of the month. “They might throw me out,” he said matter of factly. “If I work alone — no girls, no help — I will make $100 a day and pay my rent. ... And if lose my store, I lose my apartment, too. This is my only income, and it’s too cold to collect cans.” He wasn’t kidding. “I was going to collect cans — the Chinese guy teach me how to do it,” he continued. “You need a shopping cart. The guy taught me how to make a deal with the supers or in the bars — get all the beer cans.” Ray said once in the past he took a loan from the Mafia — with interest of course, and the threat of broken kneecaps; he couldn’t pay back the cash, but luckily a Turkish friend who sold him his chocolate syrup bailed him out. He doesn’t want to go through that again. But he brightened up when some of his favorite friends dropped by in the storm. Emily, the N.Y.U. student who formerly helped him, came by his window to say hi and Ray excitedly rushed over. “I love Emily,” Ray said. “I couldn’t afford her. Fifty dollars is a lot for me. If it was summer [when business is better]... .” And Ilya, the young computer guru who springs for the strippers who dance on Ray’s counter top on his birthdays, somehow biked up through the blinding snow from the Bowery, and got a free fries from Ray. Ray turns 77 on Jan. 25 — so get those tassels twirling.
(Picture courtesy of EV Grieve)