Franco-American Collection

Robert Hamel

"They used to call me the flying Frenchman.  I went flying three times...  Then I lost two fingers.  I was cutting some insulation...at Edwards Mill in Augusta.  These two [accidents] never bothered me; this one bothered me.  I tried to get some money for, they never want to pay....I was putting a roof and cutting insulation.  Somebody hollered, “Hey lunch!” The fingers feel off.  They used to save them and put them together but they asked me , “Where is your fingers?”  I says, “I don’t know.”  I went back.  I was out of there a couple of days later.  I went there and one of the guys told me he threw it to the seagulls."

Robert Hamel grew up in Lewiston during the Depression and worked in a variety of occupations, including a very brief stint in the Bates Mill, a session in a Jewish-owned shoe shop and finally 37 years and Hahnel Brothers as a roofer.  Hamel discusses working conditions and ethnic relations in the workplace.

Listen to the interview

Read the transcript (PDF)


Return to oral histories.

June and July Hours

The Collection's schedule has not yet been set for June and July, but it will generally be open 2-3 days a week.  Check back for the schedule!

Call 207-753-6545 or email janet.roberts@maine.edu to arrange a convenient time to visit.

Connect With Us