At 81, Eugene Curry has labored for much of his life.
For 34 years, he worked during the day as a nurse’s assistant at University Hospital and at night as a barber.
For the past 21 years, he had his own barber shop, running both it and a convenience store beside it.
Everything changed at 7:30 p.m. Friday when a fire left Curry’s Barbershop, on 12th Street, a shadow of what it had been only hours before.
The blaze began toward the rear of the building, which did not have an alarm, said Lt. Carlton Bradley, a fire investigator.
Just before 9 p.m., the back half of the barber shop’s second floor caved in. Firefighters did not leave the scene until almost 1 a.m.
Curry’s Barbershop was a throwback. He kept his shop rich with barber history. He had barber chairs from the 1940s,
old Barbicide disinfecting jars and much more, said one of his friends, Dale Rhein.
Rhein described Curry as a good man who was the first to help out a stranger. He said he was in the convenience store Friday morning when a woman wanted to buy a couple of sodas and could not find enough change. Curry told her she could have the sodas free of charge.
“He is soft-spoken and good-natured,” Rhein said. “He worked hard all his life, and now it’s gone.”
Curry said he thought he had insurance but found out Tuesday that he does not. All that was on his policy was a 1983 Ford pickup.
“I think I might give up,” he said. “It might be time to stop.”
He said he will miss the life of a barber, though.
“I was a master barber,” Curry said this week. “It was my life.
“It’s a good living. You can’t beat it.”
He said he has been told the fire started above the shop. Fire investigators told him someone renting a room left a hotplate on.
“I don’t know how to feel,” Curry said.