Published Novemvber 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 11
by Gretchen Crowe
If I could assign one word to Milton Floyd, I would say, “coy.” But then again, I am a woman and Milton tends to be a flirt—in a good, benign way. When asked about defining his most distinguishing feature, Milton giggled and answered, “I’m always smiling and that’s what they all like about me.” With a name out of Western fiction and the eyes to melt a sunrise, we celebrate Milton’s one year anniversary with the Denver VOICE on February 2nd.
Born in Boise, Idaho in August 1951, Milton began working in construction in lieu of finishing high school. He worked on a crew building new houses. Leading a relatively smooth life, he married his beloved wife, Debbie, and had a daughter, Annie. Milton lived and worked construction in Boise until he was 33, packing up his family to move to Denver, so they could be near his brother, Pastor David Thompson with the Activation Ministries in Evergreen. Every Sunday, Milton still heads up to the church to see his brother. He goes up there alone now. In memory of his wife, “Debbie,” is tattooed on his right arm. As he smiles, yet acknowledges his pain, he says, “the tattoo’s a little faded now, but hey, it’s just like me.” He lost his wife to a brain tumor in 2008. They were married 30 years.
While living in Denver, Milton continued to work, but he worked with a day labor group doing construction clean-up until a month or so after his wife’s death. He was laid off, and had the sense to know he was going to be on the streets. He applied with the Coalition for the Homeless for housing, anticipating his homelessness. That’s also when he found the VOICE, having met several vendors on the 16th Street Mall. The Coalition’s application process took approximately three months, and by the last month, Milton was homeless. Not being accustomed to shelter life, he reluctantly lived at the Denver Rescue Mission. “I am real glad I got my apartment,” Milton says. “After all that, it affected my nerves and my self esteem, and the VOICE really helped with that…That’s what I like about vending the VOICE, I meet so many nice people and everywhere I go, people seem to like me. It’s about the people, and of course, the money too.” Milton shares the 16th and Tremont block with another vendor, Manuela Shaw.
Looking at only his smile, it would be hard to tell that 7 months ago Milton was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, which has spread. He just finished radiation and by the time this profile is printed, he will know if he will be in chemotherapy. “When they took me off radiation, I told the nurses, ‘look, I’m now my own night light!’” That’s a great example of Milton’s humor and unique way to positively shed light on his environment—after all, he is a self-proclaimed night light. So, for February, let’s celebrate the past year with Milton, and here’s to many, many more!