Last month my dad was in and out of the hospital several times, and I ended up spending quite a bit of time in my hometown of Wallingford, Connecticut. Though I visit often throughout the year, I don’t usually visit my old stomping grounds from when I was a kid. While I was there last month I ended up having some time to kill, so I took the opportunity to stop by a very old cemetery I used to frequent when I was growing up, Center Street Cemetery.
It isn’t the cemetery where my mother is buried, in fact, I’m not sure I know any of this cemetery’s inhabitants…
But, as a teenager I would often stop by Center Street Cemetery in between school and work. I would head over from where I lived a few blocks away, stopping on the way at the New York Bakery (as it was called) for a pastry, and then through the entranceway on the corner of Orchard and Center Streets. I would find a place to sit for a few, underneath one of the many big old beautiful trees. After, I would head off to work feeling relaxed and recharged. It was a very quiet place, despite being located on two of our town’s busiest streets.
This was the first cemetery I ever took photos in, for a high school photography class; I still have the negatives and contact sheets. It started a since life-long love of mine, combining my reverence for cemeteries with my love of photography.
Center Street Cemetery started serving the area as early as 1670, was formally established in 1683, and has a pretty intriguing history. I wasn’t the first or only person to enjoy sitting and having a bite to eat amongst the gravestones… the cemetery has twelve full size stone tables, where visitors in the 18th century would lunch while paying their respects. The last woman tried for witchcraft in New England – and eventually acquitted, Winifred King Benham, is reportedly buried there. The paths are well worn from genealogists and historians frequenting the place now; while I was there, at least two others were there taking close-ups of stones.
I have the most fun with graveyard photos when I get to work altering them; these are just a few basic pics from the hour or so I spent there… It was a beautiful, very bright sunny day. It was nice to be back there, and it again offered a bit of peace during a difficult time.
Center Street Cemetery, Wallingford, Connecticut