How does a burger get from being a side of beef to a perfectly formed patty? A butcher has to cut and grind and package it up for you to take home and slap it on the grill. Danny Cambone, age 60, has a philosphical outlook on people that's served him as well as he's served his customers over nearly 50 years of cutting meat.

"I been doing this here since I was 11 years old. My whole family was in the butcher business, and my father had his own store in the South Bronx, and I started delivering orders when I was 11 years old, 50 or 60 orders a day. And I made tips! I made a lot of moneye when I was 11 years old!

"So, little by little, I started learning. My dad didn't let me start cutting till I was older, though. In this business, you start from the bottom: you start with cleaning and delivering orders. Then, from there, I musta been about 13 or 14, I started with doing chickens, getting used to handling the knife. That's the very most important thing, learning to handle the knife. By the time I was 17, I was a full-fledged butcher.

"Years ago, when my father had an old fashioned butcher shop, I really enjoyed talking to people and making people happy. After I'd come along in the business, I had my own customers! They'd come in and wait for me! And they'd say,'Danny I need a roast beef!' And they wouldn't say what kind, but I knew what they wanted. There were a lot of deliveries in those days, and they'd call me up and I'd get them the order and send everything out.

"Dealing with the public can be a little hard. I had a customer at one time, and she'd get an order every Thursday, and every order there was something wrong and she'd wnat her money back. Every week, every week, every week. So, finally, I said, 'Mrs. Sandberg, I can't give you credit no more. I have no other complaints on this item,' I says, 'I do your order myself,' I says, 'It's every week, there's $10 or $15 off your order. I can't afford to do this no more! And, 'I says, "I'm very surprised, because your husband's in the seafood business!-'

"And what did she do? She still shoppped with me! She was just getting old. And trying to get something for nothing. Human nature is human nature.

"You got to learn to deal with different personalities. I have customers that never smile! They'll walk in and you can bend over backwards and try to make 'em laugh and they'll just never smile and they'll complain and complain and complain. But as long as they keep coming back, you know you're doing the right thing!"

┬ęZina Saunders 2006-2014

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