Sharp Skills

by Jul 10, 2023North Brunswick, People

Retired NYC Fireman Gerry Amitrano brings a much-needed blade-sharpening service to Leland.

Gerry Amitrano retired from the New York City Fire Department after working as a firefighter for 23 years. In 2015 he moved to Compass Pointe in Leland, where he lives with his wife, Jeannie, and operates a small business, CP Knife Sharpening.

Amitrano grew up in Queens, New York. After high school, he knew he wanted to be a firefighter.

“Everybody I graduated with were either cops, firemen or attorneys. Civil service was what I wanted to do,” he says.

But it wasn’t easy for him. Amitrano took the test to become a firefighter and failed. Until he could complete further training, he needed to find a job.

“It was kind of like Rocky. I started in the meat market on the west side of New York City. I was a delivery driver, and eventually a butcher, for Yankee Meat Company in Chinatown,” he says. “Most of my friends had passed the test and were working in the fire department. I knew I wasn’t going to be a butcher all my life.”

CP Knife Sharpening Leland NC

Determined to succeed, Amitrano trained to be a firefighter for three years while working as a butcher, ultimately passing the firefighting test in 1986 with a score of 98%. When he was not at the firehouse, he kept working as a butcher. This allowed him to hone his skills cutting meat, and he learned how to sharpen knives that were used at the meat company. After retiring, he used those skills to start his own business, CP Knife Sharpening, serving Leland and Wilmington.

“I did not have a golf cart in the beginning, so I used my bicycle,” Amitrano says. “I would ride through the neighborhood with a laminated sign on my bicycle’s basket, and people would come out if they wanted me to sharpen their knives.”

Over time the business grew, and he bought a mobile knife-sharpening machine that fits in the back of his truck. Amitrano sharpens lawn mower blades, hedge trimmers, hand pruners and kitchen knives of all sizes.

He has a wide variety of customers, including neighbors, landscapers and some local restaurants.

“I also run a fishing club, and I sharpen filet knives for the captains of charter boats,” he says. “A lot of my business comes by word-of-mouth. It’s always the best way to get customers.”

But Amitrano doesn’t work full time.

Gerry Amitrano Knife Sharpening Leland NC

“I took on knife sharpening as a hobby,” he says. “It helps to subsidize those things that I like to do, like boating, fishing and golfing.”

While he enjoys being retired, he stays active in his community in many ways. He is also an umpire two days per week for a local baseball league for kids.

Honoring the bravery of New York City firefighters and first responders is very important to him. Amitrano says he will always remember his colleagues and the work they did in the fire department in New York City. “We will never forget. Especially 9/11, we never forget that day or the firefighters who lost their lives. I always thought it was the worst we could ever live through.”

In April of 2020 Amitrano traveled to Ireland on a family vacation. Without his knowledge, his wife, Jeannie, made arrangements for him and his family to visit the Ringfinnan Garden of Remembrance in Kinsale.

The garden is in southern Ireland and features 343 trees that were planted to honor each of the fallen firefighters who died in the line of duty on September 11. Kathleen Murphy, a nurse in New York City during the Twin Towers disaster, created the Ringfinnan Garden of Remembrance after retiring and returning to the family farm in her home country of Ireland.

Amitrano remembers, “The first tree I walked up to in the garden was planted for a friend of mine, Vinny Halloran.” Vincent Halloran was from North Salem, New York, and was serving as a lieutenant with the FDNY. “I read his name and I couldn’t believe it. It was such a moving experience for me and my family.”

CP Knife Sharpening Gerry Amitrano

While visiting the garden in Kinsale, Amitrano felt there was something missing. “We wrote a letter and asked the NYC commissioner for a large piece of steel from the Twin Towers,” he says. “We have it now, and we’re making plans to place it in the garden in Ireland. There will be a plaque on it to recognize Kathleen Murphy, who has since died, and the work she did to honor these fallen heroes.”

The Amitranos are enjoying retirement and grateful to be living near family in Brunswick County.

“I love Leland and Wilmington,” Amitrano says. “It’s beautiful. We have been here for almost eight years and enjoy being a part of this community.”

Want to have your knives sharpened?
Gerry Amitrano, CP Knife Sharpening, (516) 662-7778

Photography by Matt McGraw