NEWCASTLE, Maine — The National Geographic Channel reality show “Filthy Riches” will feature a Newcastle man who makes and repairs clam and worm hoes in an upcoming episode.
The show “travels the country with industrious Americans who prove they are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty in order to make a living,” according to the National Geographic Channel.
Lifelong Newcastle resident Millard Hassan will appear in the episode “Dying for Dollars” on Wednesday, May 13.
Hassan has manned his shop at M&S Hoes and Newcastle Auto Repair seven days a week since 1977. At 72, he works from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. He has moved his closing time up from 7 p.m. but has no other plans to slow down.
“Never ever even give it a thought,” Hassan said of retirement. “Probably work ‘til I drop.”
Hassan fixes cars and runs a small auto supply and hardware store, but “Filthy Riches” and others over the years have found his work on clam and worm hoes the most fascinating.
“I dug worms for 27 years,” Hassan said during an interview at his shop Thursday, April 23. Sometime during his years on the flats, he taught himself the craft of making hoes.
He makes different kinds of hoes for different kinds of jobs.
“It’s according to where they’re digging,” he said. “If they’re digging in sloppy mud, they want something with wide tines. If they’re digging in hard mud, they might need something (with) narrow tines on it.”
The hoes vary in price. Most retail for around $100. Hassan makes custom hoes upon request.
Sales fluctuate from year to year.
“They want one, I make ’em one,” Hassan said. “I try to keep a few ahead too, if I can. There’s a lot of those guys out there.”
Hassan has built a reputation for quality during his 38 years in business.
“If you do a good job, you get business; make junk, you don’t get no business,” he said.
Hassan’s loyal customers include bloodworm diggers and “Filthy Riches” cast members Jim Campbell and Andy Johns. “Filthy Riches” follows Campbell and Johns as they avoid “honey pots,” compete with rivals and, in the May 13 episode, seek a big payday.
According to the “Dying for Dollars” episode description on the “Filthy Riches” website, “Bath’s wormers are scrambling to pull as many worms as they can, because bait shop owner Margaret Harrington is offering a $3,000 bonus.
“While Jim Campbell and Andy Johns are excited at the chance of earning a bonus, there’s one catch — Margaret’s order is for sandworms. There’s one big problem for this dig, as Jim doesn’t have the right tool to get ‘er done.”
The dilemma lands Campbell and Johns at Hassan’s shop.
“They just showed up one day,” Hassan said, cameras and five or six crew members in tow. The shoot took place Aug. 29, 2014, according to his daughter and neighbor, Melanie Hassan Riendeau.
The crew filmed Hassan repairing a worm hoe outside and shot a scene inside his little shop.
“I don’t know what the show’s going to be like,” he said.
“They were here three or four hours,” Hassan said. He was “a little nervous” by the end of the shoot, but not because of stage fright. “I wanted to get back to work,” he said.
Hassan is taking his impending 15 minutes of fame in stride.
“Takes quite a lot to get me excited,” he said. “My daughter gets more excited than I do.”
Besides, the “Filthy Riches” episode will mark Hassan’s return to the small screen — not his debut.
“I’ve been on once or twice before,” he said. “Bill Green was here once — years ago.” The longtime Maine television personality and host of “Bill Green’s Maine” spotted Hassan working outside one day while driving by and put him on TV.
The “Filthy Riches” episode “Dying for Dollars” will air on the National Geographic Channel on Wednesday, May 13. The “Filthy Riches” website advises viewers to check local listings for details.
M&S Hoes and Newcastle Repair Shop are at 428 Jones Woods Road (Route 194) in Newcastle, just north of Cowshit Corner. For more information, call 586-5577 or “like” Newcastle Repair Shop/M&S Hoes on Facebook.