Picnic at the Polyandrium
Last week, my children asked to go on a picnic. “Sounds like fun,” I replied. So we packed up a picnic lunch and off we went.
“Where are we going for our picnic, Mom? Are we going to the playground?” my son asked. I couldn’t help but snicker. Which child would be the first to guess our secret picnic location? It turned out to be my oldest daughter. As soon as we turned onto Golf Avenue she stated, rather timidly, “We’re going to the cemetery, aren’t we?” I was surprised it took them so long to figure it out.
“You guessed it! We’re going to Pittsford Cemetery for our picnic! Won’t that be fun?” The lack of an enthusiastic response hinted that perhaps a cemetery wasn’t their idea of a perfect picnic spot. As we drove around the bend and parked on Maple Avenue beneath the shade of the large trees, their leaves swaying gently in the summer breeze, the kids perked up a little. My original plan was to picnic by my Cook boys, Nathan and William, who died within weeks of each other in 1862. However, their graves were in full sun so we settled in the shade just north of the boys, in front of the Knickerbocker plot.
As lunch and drinks were distributed, I told the kids about the time I met my Dad at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery on Lake Avenue and how we lunched at the grave of his Uncle George. That is one of my favorite memories because Dad really opened up and talked about his family. In the Victorian era, it was common for people to picnic at cemeteries. They would stroll the lovely grounds and picnic by their loved ones who had passed on. It was not considered at all odd or morbid as it seems to most people today.
After lunch was over, we cleaned up and then made the rounds to water the flowers I had planted for Memorial Day. As the kids fed the flowers, they learned a little about Edwin J. Armstrong of the 33rd New York Infantry and his brother, James, who was a brakeman on the railroad. The graves of Buckley and Frederica Bacon were next, followed by their son, Lieutenant Colonel Howard R. Bacon, a veteran of both World Wars, and his wife Elisabeth. I told my children about William & Nathan Cook and their young siblings – Charles, Hannah, Mary Augusta and Ella.
When we got in the van and started out of the cemetery, a smile lit my face as I heard my little one say, “Bye Nathan. Bye William!” These soldiers will be remembered, not only by me but by my children. Mission accomplished.
Tags: 33rd NY Infantry, Charles Cook, Edwin Armstrong, Elisabeth Bacon, Ella Cook, Frederica Bacon, Golf Avenue, Hannah Cook, Holy Sepulchre, Howard R. Bacon, James Armstrong, John Buckley Bacon, Knickerbocker, Maple Avenue, Mary Augusta Cook, Nathan Cook, picnic, Pittsford Cemetery, Victorian era, William CookYou can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.