This past May, Andy Burns, editor-in-chief of this site, Biff Bam Pop!, decided to spend time with his New Jersey posse. I’m pretty sure his staff in South Jersey pretty much outnumbers the Canadian staff, but we won’t do a head count, right now. Glenn Walker, senior editor of the site, and all around best friend, took care of the day-to-day agenda for what Andy wanted to do. I asked Andy if he wanted to take a tour of nearby Philadelphia and he did. He had a list: Liberty Bell, the Rocky statue at the Art Museum, comic book stores and, most importantly, he wanted to go on a ghost investigation. Did Andy see ghosts? Grab your ELF Meter and follow me.
Andy Meets the South Jersey Writers
This was the first time that Andy had the opportunity to visit his American Biff Bam Pop! staff in person. Most of the people who write for BBP in this area are also members of The South Jersey Writers’ Group starting with Glenn Walker, James Knipp, Loretta Sisco, Sarah Hawkins Miduski, Robin Renee and, little ole Steampunk Granny, Marie Gilbert. Andy attended one of our meetings and afterwards went out for drinks with his crew.
I See Dead People
Anyone who’s been following my posts here and at my blog knows that I’m an empath and that it is an inherent trait passed down from my grandmother. I, along with my siblings, have been seeing the dead from early childhood. No big deal, because for the most part, they are usually friendly spirits. Andy has not only encouraged me to post about my investigations, but he has encouraged me to use this knowledge of the spirit world in some of my recaps of television shows like, “Penny Dreadful” and films like The Others I’m really grateful for this.
This was to be Andy’s first official investigation and I asked for the help of a good friend and renowned medium, Marti Haines. You can’t just do an investigation without learning how to protect yourself, and since she is my mentor and I trust her, I knew that Andy would be in safe hands. Marti wanted to make sure that Andy not only enjoyed his first investigation, but that the place she picked was familiar to us. She went with the Library Company of Burlington, New Jersey. The spirits at this old establishment are, for the most part, friendly.
While we waited for the day of the investigation, I took Andy on a tour of Philadelphia. Our first stop was to the Independence Visitor Center to visit the Liberty Bell. With nine grandchildren under my belt, I’ve seen the Liberty Bell more times than I can count, but it was even more special doing it with a man who, over the last three years, became a very close friend. It was Andy who encouraged me to publish my Roof Oasis series, and for that, I will always be grateful. Writing for Biff Bam Pop! has made me a better writer and Glenn Walker and Andy Burns are always promoting my books.
We Philadelphians sometimes take our heritage for granted. Philadelphia was, and is, a very important place when it comes to our nation’s history. It was fun seeing the bell through a newcomer’s eyes. The next leg of the journey was to the Art Museum where the Rocky statue resides and where Andy would have the privilege of running up the long staircase leading to the entrance.
The days leading up to the investigation at the Library Company of Burlington, I had gone over the protection prayers with Andy and I also went into detail the proper procedures for doing an investigation, such as: respecting the spirits; asking questions that permitted a clear no or yes reply from the spirits; reporting everything that you saw or heard to one of us; staying with the group. This was Andy’s first experience and I wanted him to have fun while seeing what went into an investigation.
Present at the investigation that Friday night was Marti Haines, medium/ghost investigator, ordained minister/demonologist and manager of the Ghost Hunter Store in Burlington, followed by Jean Ramalho, Andy Burns, and me. We arrived at the location in the evening after the library had closed its doors. This library is quite active and I will share a video exploring the sightings at the end of this article.
Before entering the library, Andy, Jean, and I did our protection prayers. Once inside, and before the house lights were turned off, Marti gave Andy a little bit of history on the historical connection with the library and King George. Andy had asked Marti about the age of some of the books stored on the balcony that overlooked the main lobby and as Marti took Andy towards the spiral steps leading to the balcony, Andy got a glimpse of someone sitting in the chair close to the steps.
What I hadn’t realized at this point was that Jean and I would also be experiencing what Andy saw; Jean visually and me with smell. Jean and I said nothing at the moment as to not taint the investigation. Sometimes, if you call out that you’ve seen or sensed something before confirming it to be an actual spirit; you might influence others into seeing something that isn’t there. So, Jean and I kept quiet.
While Marti was talking to Andy, he said to her, “I saw a woman sitting in the chair.”
Marti, who has seen this spirit on many occasions, smiled and then asked Andy to describe the woman. He did. Jean confirmed that she also saw this exact spirit around the same time that Andy did. I, not knowing that Andy and Jean had also picked up on something as we headed to the spiral stairs then announced that I had picked up on a flowery perfume smell as I past the chair. Three different people picking up vibes separately was a great start for this investigation.
I wasn’t sure if Andy believed, at that moment, if what he’d experienced was really a ghost. He was cynical and that is just fine, because when you are doing an investigation, the first rule is to eliminate any natural reasons for an activity before claiming it is due to a haunting. Andy wanted more proof.
We headed to the basement where a particular spirit likes to hang out. His name is Charlie and this spirit will either welcome you warmly or make it so uncomfortable that you’ll want to leave. We didn’t have to worry about Charlie because Marti had already asked the spirits of that library for their permission to bring in visitors early that day. Remember we should always be respectful to ghosts because dead or alive; you do unto others…
While Andy and Marti checked out the basement, my ELF began to blink and so did my REM-pod that picks up electrical currents. The smell of a flowery perfume hit me full force just as Andy told Marti that he thought he saw movement at the front of the basement. Had the woman from the lobby followed us? It was the same perfume.
The final phase of the investigation was up on the balcony where I took a photo of Andy and Marti and maybe something else. You can see the cloudy shape at the second window.
I’m not sure if Andy is fully convinced that he saw ghosts that night, but he did mention that he’d had an earlier ghost experience a few years back while at a friend’s home. Most people are sensitive to the other side, but we block it out due to fear. The barrier between the dead and living is very thin and if you get people to overcome their fear, most will remember incidents where there was no explanation except spiritual.
The following day, Glenn Walker, Andy Burns, Loretta Sisco and her husband Tim, and I went to see the remake of Poltergeist film. It was the perfect movie to watch after a ghost investigation, and after the film, I critiqued what was real about ghosts and poltergeists and what wasn’t with Andy.
Was Andy convinced? I’ll let him tell you.
Andy: Was I convinced? I’d say that for the most part, I was. I went into this experience with an open mind. If anything, I wanted to believe (thank you, Fox Mulder), but I wasn’t going to do so without what I considered likely proof of my own. The instance that really sold me on “something” was being up on the balcony. I was pretty sure I’d felt something from afar; when Marti took me over to the area, she handed me a cane and said, “See, what you can get off this”. The first image that sprang into my mind was that of Uncle Sam. I kept that to myself though, so when Marti showed me the image of the owner of the cane and he looked like Uncle Sam himself… well, when I saw his face, yeah, I’m a believer.
Andy promised to visit his friends from New Jersey in the future and, I’ll have another ghost investigation for him to go on then. This place is scary and very active. I’ve written about it before here. I think Andy might want to write about that investigation on his own.
Sharon Vincz and the Ghosts of the Library Company of Burlington