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.

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Read the transcript (PDF)


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July Hours

The Collection will be open the first three weeks of July on Tues., Wed., and Thurs. from 10 until 4.  It will be closed for vacation the last week of July.  The Collection will re-open on August 1 with its regular Mon.-Thurs. schedule.

Call 207-753-6545 or email janet.roberts@maine.edu if you wish to arrange some other time to visit.

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