This Memorial Day, Skip the Sales. Visit a Graveyard.
I have a Facebook friend who lives right around the corner from me. In the privacy of our own kitchens, we use Facebook all day to stave off the isolation that comes with being a freelance writer or a painter. We chat and exchange ideas and opinions, sometimes the same, sometimes different, on Facebook nearly every day but rarely get together in real life. A teacher and avid photographer as well as mother and artist, Carol blogs at watchmepaint.
This week, when Carol graciously shared my column about finding the true meaning of Memorial Day on her Facebook page, she added a comment saying she would pay her respects by visiting a little-known cemetery in Brighton where there are graves that predate the Civil War. She described where it was to me and I still could not picture how a graveyard could exist hidden away one of Rochester’s busiest highways. So, being it was a gorgeous morning in May, I posted back “Take me with you!”
Every town has an old cemetery. The Brighton Cemetery, walking distance from our neighborhood, was founded in 1821 with some of its earliest graves dating back to 1814. Though the name served its purpose at the time, this part of Brighton was annexed to the City of Rochester in 1905. The cemetery now sits in Rochester’s 21st Ward, or for my reference point, three blocks away from the East Avenue Wegmans.
it is located on Hoyt Place off Winton Avenue:
This is a street I’ve driven past thousands of times without ever knowing what mysteries it contained. It is a street that time seemed to have forgotten, paved in the 1820s at the time of the building of the Erie Canal. As time passed, this part of the Erie Canal gave way to Route 490.
Tucked away into this street are centuries old mansions:
And then.. the Brighton Cemetery:
This week leading up to Memorial Day, find an old forgotten cemetery in your town. Dust off a gravestone to see who is buried there. You will be surprised to see that the many streets in your town just very well may be named for the names on the graves you find there.
And, if you see a grave marked with a flag, take some time to care for it. If the flag has toppled over, prop it back into the ground. Brush off the grass clippings that may be clinging to the stone. Read who the person was and the wars in which he fought.
Isn’t this a far better way of observing this holiday than, say, taking advantage of a mattress sale?