To the editor:
The lead and front page story in last week’s issue struck a very sad chord. Until I read that story, I wasn’t aware that my friend George Kurovics was still with us, continuing to give traditional “Navy” haircuts in his Rocky Point barber shop. Had I known, I would have had no other barber trimming my hair for these past many years. Though George was eight years my senior, we shared the naval aviation experience. As your story told, George signed up in 1946, at age 16, with parental approval. He became a Petty Officer 3rd Class serving as tail-gunner in shipboard-based reconnaissance aircraft. George knew full well the thrill of launching from the aircraft carrier flight deck and landing on board at the end of his missions. He also endured the threats and fear of combat in World War II.
In January 1969, military duty brought me to Long Island serving as Navy aircraft production test-flight director at Grumman. Settling in Rocky Point, I went looking for a good barber. It was George I found who had just the right touch with scissors to go along with his pleasant personality. He cut my hair for years.
George gave a cheerful greeting each time I entered wearing my naval officer’s uniform. We talked and talked both Navy and flying. He showed great interest in my assignment at Calverton flying A6 Intruders. He told of duty in the rear seat of his recon aircraft, watching out for enemy bogeys. We swapped stories about life on an aircraft carrier. Even after my family moved to Riverhead in 1973, I doubled back to George’s shop for an occasional haircut and shop talk.
In 1975, I retired from active Navy duty, accepting an offer to head the Riverhead NJROTC program. Early on, promoting affordable, standard military-style haircuts for male cadets became an important issue. Roy’s barber shop, on Riverhead’s Peconic Avenue, offered cadets in uniform a discounted haircut. With that, Roy became the NJROTC barber. In hindsight, how sad it is that George and I drifted apart. May he rest in peace.
Thank you for your tribute to my barber friend George.
CDR James Roth
U.S. Navy, retired