Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Who you gonna call?

#4 left us. He left us! He is gone. On Thursday, July 21st, (which also happened to be the 150th anniversary of the first battle of the Civil War at Bull Run), #4 packed up his car, said his fare-thee-wells and rode off into the sunset. Coincidence that his last day happened to be on the 150th anniversary of a civil war battle? Let’s hope so for all of our sakes.
Actually it would be more accurate to say he rode off into the late morning sunshine. But even more accurate would be to say he rode off into the late morning sunshine obscured by the heat haze hanging over Albany on what must have been a day to make even the Devil shift his pitchfork in discomfort between his cloven hooves. What I’m saying is that it was hot that week, so even if #4 was sorry to leave us, I don’t know how sorry he was about not having to climb up and down stairs to work in the attic in this heat.

Since his departure, work at the site has come to a standstill. It feels a bit like a ghost town in recent weeks without the hustle and bustle of restoration activity. Certainly if you look at the house from the outside, with its missing siding and metal fence, the place looks like it has been abandoned and is now the playground of the spirit world. Which gave me an idea. Ghost tours and paranormal investigations at historic sites seem to be all the rage these days. Maybe Historic Cherry Hill should use this national craze as an opportunity to make something positive out of the current external appearance of the house. But how does a historic site go about offering this sort of “special tour” to the general public. Sure, Historic Cherry Hill conducted its own “ghost investigation” last fall but it wasn’t open to the public. (Click on the following link or click below to watch the "investigation.")

While I scratched my head in thought, an opportunity arose that really was quite fortuitous. A historic site in central New York was offering a Haunted History Investigation to the public at a “reasonable” $25 dollars a ticket. The Director, the Curator and I decided that we should attend to see how this sort of thing worked. For the purpose of research. Perfectly objective research.

I learned a couple of things from the research trip (please note, the following lines are delivered in a heavily sarcastic tone):

• There are four types of ghosts: residual, intelligent, poltergeist and non-human entities.

• Apparently measuring electromagnetic fields is really big in the ghost hunting world. You wouldn’t believe the number of gadgets that exist to measure electromagnetic readings. I’m serious. You would not believe it.

• Clearly there is a growing need for colleges and universities to offer a Bachelor Degree of Science in Ghost Hunting. One of the ghost hunters who addressed the full capacity group was forced to waste years of his life on a college campus, accumulating various Bachelor of Arts Degrees in really random subjects, (I think one of them may have been Basket Weaving but I’m not sure), just to get the appropriate training for this line of work. Don’t even get me started on the poor girl who had to get a degree in Animal Behavioral Science before she could finally be qualified for ghost hunting.

• The federal government needs to invest more money in support of the study of science at the high school and college levels. A lot more money. A lot.

• Museum professionals do not always act professionally when on a ghost hunt.

The conclusion? This isn’t Historic Cherry Hill’s thing, no matter whatthe house’s exterior currently looks like as a result of the restoration work. Besides, its outward appearance is only temporary – and who knows how long these ghost investigations at historic sites are gonna be around. For at least as long as the general public finds them fascinating…and we all know how long the general public’s attention span lasts. Coke II anyone?

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