Milton George Schleve "Uncle Milt"
1935, 1793, Pine Creek, SP-1,
1935, 2757, Narrows (Blue Bell), SP-3,
1936, 2755, Lodge, DSP-2,
1937, 2765, Fechner, SCS-6,
I was 18 years old September 29, 1935. In October, I joined the CCC. I was a small town farm boy who never went to high school as times were tough. To help out, I started working out at 13. I was the oldest of four children--one sister and two brothers. I was raised on a farm east of Oral, which is about 20 miles south of Hot Springs.
We had to get to Rapid City to be inducted into the CCC. They examined us in the American Legion Hall on St. Joseph Street. Then we were put into an army truck and taken to Camp Pine Creek, the home of Company 1793. The camp was just below Mount Rushmore, where Horsethief Lake now is. I helped build the spillway on this dam, hauling rocks and sand with a wheelbarrow. After being there 6 weeks, I was transferred to Company 2757 at Camp Narrows on detached service. I liked this as it was closer to Hot Springs.
I was put on KP duty and more or less enjoyed having a steady job. I worked KP until I got promoted to dining room orderly, which was still KP only all I had to do was take care of the dining room. We only had to work 5 days a week, then I would get back to Hot Springs on Friday night and didn't have to be back until 6 a.m. Monday.
I enjoyed this duty as I was also learning to cook. After 6 weeks this came to a halt. We were transferred back to Camp Pine Creek. I was really down--didn't like it one bit. At Pine Creek about all we did was cut wood to keep the camp going; that was the winter it got to 56 below zero up there. All our water lines froze, and we melted snow to get water to wash our hands and face. We used garbage cans to melt snow to bathe in.
After 6 weeks or about the middle of February 1936 I was sent to Company 2755 at Camp Lodge, now the Black Hills Playhouse. It was a newer and nicer camp. The old pine creek camp was erected of wemryedge boards with tar paper on another wemryedge board nailed over cracks. While in Camp Lodge I worked on fish nets in a dam they were building which is now Place Lake. I also helped build a road south of the zoo at the Game Lodge, and at the museum down this road. I didn't like being moved around so I quit the end of March, 1936. I went back to Oral where I worked on the farm and drove truck for my Grandpa Fleming.
I signed up again in the fall of 1937 and was sent to Company 2765 at Camp Fechner, located at Fort Meade. I spent about 4 weeks doing odd jobs like KP, getting wood, and running a wheel barrow. Then I was assigned my first truck--an International No.8. I had always driven a Ford or Chevrolet so this was a new challenge for me.
With this stake truck I hauled wood and other such loads. However, the driver of Chevrolet No. 6 was frequently late in the morning, and I was assigned to that truck to haul men to and from work. I was in heaven when I was driving. We always had inspection on Monday morning. I remember one Monday morning when they were inspecting the trucks. The mechanic said, "I don't understand it. These other drivers are around here on Saturday cleaning and tuning their trucks; but you leave every Friday night, and yours always runs and the motor is the cleanest." I told him that when it was running good I left it alone--not tinker with it. I always kept a cloth handy and kept the motor clean.
One time the crew that I hauled was working in camp so the mechanic who was going to put a magneto on the starting motor of a D6 asked me to ride along. After watching them put the mag on and the motor wouldn't run, I asked if I could try. I had run our John Deere since I was 10 years old and had also learned how to replace the mag on it. He said "Sure" so I put the mag on and it ran. I had to make some small adjustments, but didn't think much about it as it was just something I had learned from the farm tractor.
Two days later I was asked to report to the superintendent's office. I wondered what I had done. He asked me to quit driving the truck and run the Cat. What a summer. I took off my shirt and got as brown as an Indian. I enjoyed this. I dug water holes, built dams, and pulled graders. That fall when that kind of work ended I applied for a job in the army garage, which after a time I got.
I asked for the army garage because you could gain experience and seniority to qualify for a job of driving an official car. When you did this you earned extra money. I worked hard as mechanic until I was top enrollee an official car driver. As such I was in about every camp in the Black Hills and camps at Miles City, MT and Bismarck, ND. I remember driving from Miles City to Bismarck on old U.S. Highway 10. I had never driven on a road where you could see for miles and miles. I drove the general from Fort Meade through the Hills to board train in Edgemont. At this time I was driving a new 1934 Chevrolet. By the fall of 1939 I had served 2 years and new rule would not allow me to stat longer. So I was discharged again.
I learned a lot while in the CCC. I took up typing and bookkeeping, learned enough about cooking that I served some of my time in the army in WWII as a cook. Even though you could say I am an 8th grade drop out, I operated a service station before to the army in 1942. When I returned I ran a locker plant in North Dakota a co-op for 4 years before returning to Rapid City in 1951. I worked for Royal Alignment for 13 years until the fall of 1963. I started my own alignment service January 1964, which I ran until 1982, when I turned it over to my son, a nephew, and son-in-law. We have 7 employees; have a building by 70-by 115-feet, called Uncle Milt's Alignment Service.
Right now I am enjoying retirement and I have headed six CCC reunions here in the Black Hills. I would say that over 75% of the men that come to the reunion are self-employed. I think this speaks very well for the CCC.x
Milton G. 'Uncle Milt' Schleve
RAPID CITY - Milton "Uncle Milt" Schleve, 85, was called to his heavenly home on December 25, 2002. Milton George Schleve was born on September 29, 1917, at Alliance, Nebraska, to George and Alta (Fleming) Schleve.
Milt spent his early years in Oral, South Dakota, where he attended school and received his 8th-grade diploma. His first paying job was in 1931 working on a dairy farm near Oral. Milt joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in October 1935 at the age of 18. During his years in the CCC's he made many friendships that had lasted through the years.
Milt met his wife, Marian, at a dance in Hermosa in the fall of 1941. They were married in Newcastle, Wyoming, on June 25, 1942. Five children were born to this union.
Milt spent 3-1/2 years from the fall of 1942-1946 in the Army. Following his discharge he spent the next couple of years in Leith, North Dakota, working in a locker plant. In December of 1950, Milt moved his family to Rapid City, where they have lived since.
Milt worked for his uncle at Royal Wheel Alignment until his uncle's death. He then opened his own alignment business, "Uncle Milt's," in January of 1964, where he worked until his retirement in 1982.
Milt was involved in many community activities. He was active in Big Bend Presbyterian Church, Canyon Lake Senior Citizens Center, Western Council, and a former member of the Elks. He remained active with the CCC's by starting reunions every 2 years.
Uncle Milt was proud of the success he was able to achieve and pass on to his family. The completion of his book, "The Life of Milton Schleve," and the rebuilding of his Subadodge were some of his most valued personal accomplishments. The many things he was able to do for family and friends made his days full.
Milt is survived by his wife of 60 years, Marian; his sons Milton "Jim" (Ann) Schleve and Marshall (Sandra) Schleve; his daughters Marvel (Dennis) Thuringer and Melinda Loy; grandchildren Christine (Mark) Frederick, Barry Loy, Kim Thuringer; step-grandchildren Dan and Jeff (Heather) Thuringer; great-grandchildren Sarah and Nolan Frederick; brother Richard (Carol) Schleve; aunt Velma Scheer; nieces, nephews and cousins.
"Uncle Milt" was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Clifford, his sister Rebecca, and an infant daughter.
He'll be missed by many, including his faithful companions, Cookie and Ashley.
Visitation will be from noon until service time on Saturday at the Osheim-Catron Funeral Home.
Celebration of his life service will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 28, at the Osheim-Catron Funeral Home, with Rev. Charlie Hunt officiating.
Burial will be at 11 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 30, at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, with military honors provided by Rushmore VFW Post 1273 of Rapid City. Family and friends may gather at the funeral home for a procession leaving at 10:15 a.m.
A memorial has been established.
xDerschied, Lyle A. "The Civilian Conservation Corps in South Dakota, 1933-1942." Brookings, SD, South Dakota State University Foundation Press, 1986. No longer in print. Available at some libraries but may not be checked-out.
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