About a week ago Kate and I went to take some pictures of the famed Silver Fox bar in Hammonton. Dive Bar Widow Archetype “FOXY” lost her famous sign in a wind storm here in South Jersey. We wanted to see if we could catch some good shots before they scrapped the landmark sign. Of course when we got there the one patron was leaving and FOXY was outside chatting with her. We were nervous that FOXY may get a little excited if she saw us rummaging through the scraps of her beloved signage, and we certaily didnt want to be responsible for causing dear FOXY a stroke, so we bailed. Saddened by our lost opportunity and knack for crappy timing we decided to take some pics down at the old Ancora Psychiatric Hospital Gate. Anyone thats familiar with that spot knows the place just oozes with high school goth like possibilities. So Kate dropped me off at the front, not the front of the main hospital, this is the old gate down towards the end of the road. I took a few shots, still trying to learn the features and settings of my new camera. Nothing monumental, until I got home and looked at a few of the shots close up, and what to my wonderincg eyes should appear but a face of a lion and monkey and deer. Ok the deer was purely for rhyme control but we did see hidden in the picture what appeared to be the face of a lion and of a monkey. We verified what we saw with various family members most people said it looked like something but they couldnt see it clearly until we would point it out as an animal etc. Most everyone saw the lion.
This was pretty intriguing for me. I decided to take a closer look at them in the editing software. I downloaded them right away and started looking for more oddities. I started with the original lion photo, I tried to find the lion image again but got sidetracked by the other faces and images that started to appear before my eyes. It was truly an eerie experience, with the picture blown up 200% tracking through each frame carefully I was uncovering a paranormal cornacopia of images some of what appeared to be very old portrait photographs of Victorian Era- to Early 1900’s. When I tell you they appeared to me as photographs I tell you they were so clear to my eye i could have sketched them with pretty accurate detail even with my limited(very limited) drawing capabilites. I was also seeing colors and patterns that literally seemed to grow stronger and more vivid the longer I focused in on them. I also saw some faces that to me were extremely scary, clown faces with running black makeup, distorted skulls, and things I could only describe as demon faces. I was obsessed at this point, convinced I had found some kind of portal to the “other side”. Anyone who knows me knows Im flakey like that. Right away I started researching all I could about Winslow Twp. history and specifically the history of the hospital.What I found was pretty vague as Ive come to find out, you cant find much good history without looking at old newspapers, birth and death records or interviewing. I was convinced someone who worked at Ancora would have blogged about experiences they had at the hospital etc, but there really wasnt much but government funding articles mixed in with a few inmate escape clippings. What I did find out was the entrance gate I had photographed was the entrance to the original Tuberculosis hospital built in 1900. I didnt know this then but Kate explained that TB patients were many times treated as mentally ill. So this convinced me even more that I had uncovered a hot spot for spirits whom were never able to “cross over”(This is what happens when you spend an entire weekend watching Ghost Hunters).
Kate was due to come over on Monday night and I literally could not wait to pull her in front of the screen and let her see what Madam Ruby sees.
**about the sometimes over the top references i.e. Madam Ruby..its just engrained in me, diagnosis- Pop Culture Reference Torrets**
Kate being more level headed than I did see images and in fact the night I viewed them with Kate I saw more things than I had before. We were trying to be as scientific as possible not immeditately telling the other what we saw, just that we saw something in a paerticular area of the screen and that it was a face or an animal etc. But of course our excitement got the better of us and soon we were tracing the objects with our fingers to make light of what the other saw. Most of what we saw was similar if not the same. One of the most amazing things we saw was what we called the “Fruit” the fruit appeared to us an an image of the picture that started taking shape with an animal face, presumably a monkey, and then before our eyes it was like the picture was transforming into some prehistoric jungle with vivid images of snakes and birds, all with clearly identifiable patterns and colors. Flower blossoms that were so vividly red orange and yellow we had to turn our heads afraid of what more the mage would show us. Kate identifed this amazing image of the FRUIT that potrayed the blossoms as a womans profile and hair. Again it was so incredibly clear I wish that I had an ounce of drawing ability so that I could have sketched it out. Another thing we saw that was similar was an image of a young woman lying on the ground, arms thrown out at her sides like she collapsed and holiding what we presumed to be a bottle. The outfit she wore was incredibly clear tied up around the neck with white ruffles a checked pattern pants suit or dress with the same white ruffle around the arm cuffs. One other haunting image was one we both saw of several men lined up in period dress posing for a picture, the odd thing about this one was the men were lined up from one side of the image to the other. We were convinced they were either ralilroad men or soldiers but it was crazy to me that we were seeing all of them like in a snapshot photograph, real as day like you could reach out and touch them.
Ok so now we start to analyze the situation a little bit. Kate mentioned that she had learned that the brains ultimate function is to make sense of everything. If your mind sees something it cannot comprehend it will use whatever it does have stored to make it all fit. Were our brains seeing just this random pixelated blurryness and producing some of the most wild imagery I had ever seen. Im convinced at this point my brain power isnt this strong and the only logical answer is of course ghosts and goblins. We also talked about the power of suggestion. Considering how we both wanted to see something, and each was pointing things out to the other that then we miraculously saw this too could be another major componet in our search for the lost souls of ancora, nj. It could be I suppose but I needed more time to puruse the possibilities. The next day I started googling some crazy keywords like- “blowing up pictures produces ghosts?”, “Ghosts In BlowUp”(this one by the way had some very interesting results” and then the winner “Faces in Blown Up Pictures”. Not sure if it was on the 1st page or not but eventually I landed at the Wiki page for Pareidolia. The concept that Kate nailed in the beginning, our brains trying its damnedest to make sense of things it cannot. Many instances include faces, animals etc. Now I’m thinking pretty hard about this whole paranormal investigative career I was pondering for the last 72 hours. Carl Sagan wrote about it that as a survival technique, human beings are “hard-wired” from birth to identify the human face. This allows people to use only minimal details to recognize faces from a distance and in poor visibility but can also lead them to interpret random images or patterns of light and shade as being faces. This is why the images seemed to almost build themselves the more I stared, and why the images appeared layered, and Kate and I having similar thought patterns were able to easily see close to identical images. This is why once the power of suggestion was in place the images came to us like wildfire. Its all very interesting I think, it was really inspiring to me just the whole mystical aspect that somewhere in this dull brain of mine lies all this random stimuli that could produce things so wildly imaginitive and ferociously disturbing all at the same time.
So in the end I have come to the conclusion that these pics are really nothing more than a severe case of Paredolia and that I am within my limits of avoiding Ancora for myself someday. I’d be intersted though if anyone sees something they would like to share, I have uploaded the original here and mostly used a 200% zoom. The Truth Is Out There 😉