There’s something magical about a rainy day in NYC. People tend to stay inside, so the streets are mostly deserted….except for a few stray raincoats with perfectly mis-matched boots and umbrellas scattered along the pavement and a two crazy girls 20-something year old girls, twirling and skipping through the rain. On days like these I almost always forget to wear a raincoat and I almost always lose my umbrella, but I always have fun in the city rain, after all, it’s one of the best times to explore.
CarolAnne and I went on an adventure in the East Village. I had two objectives. First, I wanted to find good coffee (always a given on a Saturday Morning). Second, to get to the coffee shop, I wanted to walk down streets I’d never traveled before.
Soon enough, CarolAnne and I found our coffee, enjoyed conversation about Myth, Robert Frost, and the importance of story, then left for an adventure.
As we meandered through exclusive boutiques on 11th Street we found a basement store hidden between brownstones and designer ware. There was no name on the outside awning of the shop, just a vague sign that read, “Open. Closed when not open, open when not closed. We are child, dog, and eccentric friendly,” and an unassuming display of rubber stamps in front window.
CarolAnne and I had to go inside.
“I went ‘a over t’ New York with m’family one time. I was 16.” Said Casey, the shop owner, as he colored his thick Irish accent with a jolly laugh. “And New York was a town full of misfits. So I fit in perfectly.”
Casey is the proprietor of Casey Rubber Stamps, he’s the chief stampmaker and the cornerstone of his basement shop in the East Village. “This store, well, it’s been around for 8 years. I’ve had other stores before this one, but it’s been here for a bit.”
“See these stamps?” He says pointing to line of cartoonish stamps of pizzas, skeletons, and smiling carrots nestled between impressive ships, life-like acorns, and elegant dragonflies. “I made them myself. You can tell which ones are mine. I do the more traditional ones, and then I make the weird ones too. The weird ones are my favorite.”
“The city has changed a lot. But I still fit in here, well, more than I would any other place. I lived in London, I lived Dublin, I lived in San Francisco, I lived in Toronto, you know, and then I came back to New York.”
“Originally, after college, I was a coin collector and opened up me’ own shop. But, as it goes, I didn’t have financial backers and when I went home one Christmas, and my roommate-he robbed me of all my coins. That was that; what can ye’ do? While I was getting my shop ready, I had a stamp of a coin made. That what when I knew that stamps and coins were similar-they’re both made with a light relief.”
That was that.
I bought a stamp of the Empire State Building, we said our goodbyes, and that evening, I tried out my stamp on a favorite set of stationary. Like it?
If you want to visit Casey’s shop, take the L train to 1st Ave, walk south three blocks to 322 East 11th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues).