Cephas Littleton can be seen walking around Freedom Park in Morehead in his bib overalls with a hatchet in his hand. Sometimes he has a working crew; other times, he tends the flower garden himself.
Red mums, tulips and daffodils are just some of the types of flowers he has planted at the park, which is dedicated Rowan County’s veterans. It’s located in front of the Rowan County Arts Center on Old Courthouse Square.
“I’ve had these Chinese Dahlias a long time and I brought them over and they reproduced and put out a lot of them,” Littleton says.
Littleton is a veteran who says he was “drafted” by the American Legion and Veterans Foundation to become the park’s caretaker. He is proud of his plants, which have stayed alive and colorful longer than many household plants at this point in the season.
“I didn’t know it would be this good,” he says. “Most of everything here I sat out myself or had it set out.”
Littleton is most proud of the park’s evergreens and Black Eyed Susies.
“I’m an old country boy – an old farmer over here on KY 377,” he says. “I’ve always liked flowers.”
He remembers bringing wild bouquets to his mother as a small child.
“No matter what it was she always appreciated them,” he says. “I learned to like flowers then because I could bring them to her.”
As he stood in Freedom Park, observing the veterans memorial wall and all of his work, a young man approached.
“I just wanted to come over here and thank you, man-to-man,” Dillon Green said.
Green, who is from Ohio, was in Morehead visiting a friend who goes to Morehead State University.
Littleton was the platoon sergeant at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas during the Cuban crisis.
“I think you should thank your veterans all you can because you wouldn’t be here without them,” Green said.
To show his appreciation, Green offered his assistance. Littleton put him to work.
Littleton says the inmates from the Rowan County Detention Center sometimes help him.
“I just call them and they have somebody come with them but they do most of the work,” he said.
His family helps, too.
“They’re better hands than what we could get most anywhere. They know how deep to set them and everything,” he said.
Once upon a time, other veterans would help in the flower garden.
“They weren’t setting the plants and bushes deep enough. I told them real quick,” he chuckled.
His mother is now buried at Clear Fork on Cranston Road.
“Ever since she passed away I just get a bouquet and take them and put them on her grave. It does me more good than to buy flowers, in memory of her,” he says.
Nicole Sturgill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 784-4116.