Milton was originally a station for horse drawn freight companies. The town was built around a livery stable where horse teams were changed before crossing the Ohio River to Madison Indiana by ferry.
Cleve's family was very poor as most people living in the area were at that time. His mom Pearl would have the kids ride the ferry across the Ohio river and pull large bags of other people's laundry on a wooden cart. She would launder the clothes for a nickel a bag.
The kids clothes usually consisted of feed sack dresses for the girls and for the boys, parts of men's work overalls that had been discarded at the livery stable. Pearl was quite a seamstress making due with what they had.
In 1928, construction began on the Milton-Madison Bridge, and it opened to the public in December 1929. Until 1947, travelers were required to pay a toll to cross. The bridge made possible the shortest route of transportation between Lexington, KY and Indianapolis.
From an article on the history of the Milton United Methodist Church:
In 1937, the worst and most disastrous flood of the Ohio Valley hit our church and reached the roof, greatly damaging the church and destroying many of the records and furnishings.
When Cleve was a toddler, his mom would tack the seat of his pants to a tree stump in their front yard to keep him from following James and Bennie around.
As they grew older, James took the natural role of Clevie's protector. It was said, no one would pick on Clevie for fear of James.
When Cleve was two his dad and name sake, Cleveland, got a job as a lineman for the Indiana Power Company. The family moved from Milton across the river to Madison Indiana. Many said you seldom saw Bennie without Clevie while they were growing up.
Clevie was a deep sleeper. Bennie and James would play tricks on him by waking him and saying someone downstairs was calling him. Cleve would stumble out of bed and down the stairs only to be spanked by mom or dad for being out of bed.
By high school the boys were always getting in trouble. Once, Bennie and Cleve, while skipping school, were out walking down a country road and came upon a small one room school house. Because they thought they looked older than they were, they entered the school and told the teacher they were state school inspectors. The ploy might have worked except one of the older students recognized Cleve, and the teacher chased them out of the building.
In an upcoming article, we'll learn how Bennie, James and Cleve initiated their military careers.
*Unless otherwise noted, all photographs related to Milton can be found at the website for North Kentucky Views. Click here to visit the site.