By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – A group of paranormal investigators walk into a museum…
It sounds like a joke, but that’s how members of the Cape Atlantic Paranormal Research Society started their investigation into paranormal phenomenon at Margate’s Historic City Hall, which houses the city’s historical artifacts, including a pair of Pat’s handcuffs.
According to Margate Historical Society Museum Curator Gwen Meade, who retired earlier this month, the paranormal investigators visited the historical museum one afternoon last September. Although she provided them with her customary tour of the museum, she didn’t learn until later in the visit the real reason they were there. Before the end of their tour, Meade learned that they were paranormal investigators.
“The first summer we were open, a woman came in to take pictures and told us we had a ghost here, because her camera would not pick up images of the prohibition whiskey bottles,” Meade said.
Paranormal investigators Linda White, Joan Cousins and Mike Morrison visited the museum with their astonishing announcement that they wanted to do a full paranormal investigation of the site, to which Meade obliged.
“We help anyone who is having issues and needs an investigation,” White said during the investigation’s big reveal on May 25.
White explained to a large crowd gathered in Commission Chambers at Historic City Hall that paranormal events are anything that happens that cannot be explained by science and are not in line with how the world normally works. That could include apparitions, unexplained lights, sounds, odors, uneasy presence, moving objects, doors opening and closing for no apparent reason and hearing disembodied voices.
“Nine out of 10 times, it’s a rational explanation,” White said, but during their numerous investigations unexplained phenomena were discovered. “We approach with caution and work in pairs, but no one knows what causes a haunting.”
Their investigations are done free of charge, but they accept donations to continue their work in the South Jersey area. Their investigations last for hours and include the use of infrared video cameras and sensitive audio equipment.
Cousins’ own home in Cape May provided much of the impetus for creating the paranormal investigation organization, she said. She no longer lives in the home that she believes is haunted by spirits of the past.
The group presented results of other investigations conducted in the South Jersey area which included videos of floating orbs, shadows at the top of a set of steps leading from a basement, and audio recordings of voices calling out from the dark.
“No one know where they come from, but I can tell you, they exist,” White said, although the group is not interested in investigating demons.
Their presentation about the Historical Society Museum investigation similarly showed unexplained flashes of light caught with the aid of an infrared camera and a disembodied voice on a piece of audio equipment that can’t be explained.
The voice on the audio provided the answer to a question White asked Morrison while Meade was standing near the jail cell containing artifacts from the city’s early Police Department. On a shelf in the jail cell were several sets of handcuffs. A spirit box cycling radio frequencies that normally record static, answered that the set of cuffs belonged to “Pat.”
A closer look and conversation with family members of the museum’s founder, Pat Paterson, confirmed that the handcuffs belonged to Pat, a plain clothes member of the Police Bar Patrol who assisted uniformed officers during the Barbary Coast days. In fact, his name, “Pat” was engraved on the cuffs.
The investigators also played an infrared video showing an orb of light floating around one of the display cases. Although the video was recorded during the daytime hours, all the shades were tightly drawn and the room was dark.
“I found it interesting,” Margate resident Andrew Miller, 20, said. “I didn’t believe in ghosts, but now I’m impressed with all the equipment they use to capture these things that are unexplained. It would have been nice to see some demon activity though.”
Another pair of visitors from western Atlantic County rushed to get to the presentation.
“We’ve always had an interest in the paranormal ever since my daughter Heather received messages from my dad who had passed away,” South Egg Harbor resident Donna Berchtold said. “She was a year-and-a-half when he died and some of the things she said about him were true.”
Another time, while visiting Gettysburg, a tour guide told her other daughter not to touch the rocks. When she did move a rock, her sister Heather, who was taking pictures at the time, felt her camera heat up and catch on fire. A check of other photos revealed an “apparition” in the photo that cannot be explained, Berchtold said.
The Margate City Library Historical Society Museum, 1 S. Washington Ave., is open to the public. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Learn more at margatelibrary.org.
Copyright Mediawize, LLC 2021