Fire guts NC business, reveals story of couple who built it

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Minnie Ervin sat quietly inside a car Wednesday morning watching as Winston-Salem firefighters made sure that the fire that had just destroyed a lifetime of work had been extinguished.

Her grown children, Rosa Ervin Adams and Jakay Ervin Jr., stood nearby waiting on an insurance adjuster and greeting well-wishers. “Everybody got out OK,” Ervin Adams said to a friend who had called her.

The family business, Ervin’s Beauty Services on Patterson Avenue, had been in place since 1976 when Minnie and Jakay Sr. converted by hand an old gas station into a community icon — a thriving beauty-supply business/hair salon where generations of women, including the late Dr. Maya Angelou and longtime Councilwoman Vivian Burke, came to have their hair done.

The business had been gutted by fire; it was an economic setback and a devastating loss.

But within minutes of listening to Minnie Ervin speak, it became apparent that the story of Ervin’s Beauty Services is much deeper than structure fire. It’s really a love story about the life Minnie and Jakay Ervin shared for 65 years.

“He drew up the plans himself and built a lot of it with his own two hands,” Minnie Ervin said. “He’s worth talking about. I love talking about him.”