Dubuque Sash & Door, 1988 to present
Dale Wiegand bought the business back in the 70’s. It was called Hurd-Most then and it was down under the Julien Dubuque Bridge. But Dale bought it and moved it down here into this building after Caradco moved out. Eventually Dale hired two former Caradco craftsmen—Donny Kamm—he’s gone now—and Walt Hedricks. Donny Kamm had worked at Caradco and he was real skilled. He was a magician with wood. That guy, he could put out round top windows and whatnot in less time than anybody I ever met. Donny had his own area. All of the stuff he had back there was old line driven machines that had been converted to electric motors. He had a double spindle shaper there and a machine called a sticker. There was a tenoner way up in the corner there and a big old band saw, but everyone one of them, you could see, used to be driven off of these wide leather belts. It was pretty antiquated equipment. Which is another feather in Donny’s cap, because he could make some beautiful stuff with that old machinery.
Donny was missing all the fingers off his left hand except for his thumb. All he had was stubs left on that. And on his right hand he was missing a couple of fingers, too. It was no wonder he was kind of ornery. When I lost my finger, I went to the emergency room and eventually got to Doctor Schemmel’s office and his nurse was saying, “Where I grew up I knew this old guy. Every once and a while, he come home and he’d have his hand all bandaged up.” And I said, “Where’d you live?” and she said, “Down on Lincoln.” And I said, “Well, that was Donny Kamm.” She said, “I think he was kind of proud of it.” Yeah, he was kind of cantankerous. But even with the few fingers he had, he could do more with wood than anybody I’ve known.
I went to work for Dale in ‘88 and another guy who started after me took a finger off on a joiner. I always thought, that ain’t gonna happen to me. But, it can happen to anybody. It’s almost just a matter of time if you stay in the business long enough. Something is gonna to happen to you. I chopped a finger shortly before we moved out of this place, so I have the distinction of being the last guy to loose a finger in the Caradco Building.