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STRUTHERS Butcher has no beef with his age



Published: Sat, April 13, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Toriello & amp; Son was known for its meats, especially the dry sausage made from a secret family recipe.

By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

STRUTHERS -- John Toriello has been cutting meat more than 73 years. He started the day his dad fired the butcher who worked in the family's grocery store.

"I was only 17 years old," Toriello said.

He'll celebrate his 90th birthday Monday and his party is going to be at the meat counter in Stanton's Market, 124 Poland Ave., where he still works as a butcher.

One of nine children, Toriello grew up in the grocery business. His dad started Toriello & amp; Son in the early 1900s, Toriello said, and he, his three brothers and a sister, Rose, worked there.

Eventually, Toriello's brothers went to college. One became a doctor, another moved to California after World War II and started his own business and the other came back to the family store after graduating from college.

Rose, who will be 100 in October, stayed in the family business, too.

The three siblings eventually took over, working as partners for 61 years.

Claim to fame: Toriello & amp; Son was famous for meats, especially its dry sausage made from a secret family recipe. The sausage, Toriello said, spends eight days in the smoke house, is medium hot and "you eat it as is -- like homemade pepperoni."

Demand for the special sausage and custom-cut meats brought generations of customers to the store. When he sold the business, his customers followed him.

Although he was old enough to retire, Toriello said he wanted to do more than sit back in a rocking chair. He went to work at Pyatt Street Market three days a week and worked a fourth day at the store he had sold to Bill Stanton.

About 1988 or 1989, Stanton merged Toriello's family business into Stanton Market, a store he'd operated since 1977, and named Toriello the No. 1 butcher.

Toriello works 20 hours a week at Stanton Market -- in two-hour shifts except for Tuesday, when he works a full day. He also runs errands.

Like Toriello & amp; Son, Stanton Market is known for its custom-cut meats, accounting for up to 75 percent of business.

Toriello and Stanton are the only butchers at the store and, to this day, Stanton is the only one with whom Toriello has shared his secret family recipe.

The two men share more than an occupation.

"I have to have coffee with Bill every morning," Toriello said.

"He's teaching me longevity," Stanton smiled.

Customers are like family, too.

No generation gap: Many of them are grandchildren and great grandchildren of Toriello & amp; Son's original customers.

"I knew her great-grandpa," Toriello said, pointing to a co-worker operating the cash register.

Despite arthritic knees, which he attributes to years of carrying quarters of beef before meat came packed in boxes, Toriello has no plans to retire "until the good Lord takes me."

The best part of his job, he said, is meeting new people and reminiscing with those he's known forever. "I know quite a few by their first name," he said.

Toriello is also active in St. Nicholas Church, counting collections and calling bingo.

"I can remember going to bingo with my mother and he was calling," Stanton said.

He keeps the same schedule he's had all his life, rising at 5:45 a.m., stopping in at his sister's by 7:15 a.m. to make sure she's had her medicine, and then going to work or church.

Hard work, rest and abstaining from alcohol and tobacco are the secrets to living a long life, Toriello said.

He has three children -- another son is deceased -- 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. One brother and three of his sisters are also living. His wife, whom he married in 1936, died seven years ago.

kubik@vindy.com




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