In early December of 2019, I received a photo from my cousin Jud, my Great-aunt Reve’s son. Thus began a series of strange and unbelievable events. Before I describe them in the exact order they happened, I want you to “meet” my Aunt Reve.
Reve Blieden Bricker was born in 1879 outside of Riga, Latvia, probably in Wenden where the family owned a mill. She was the youngest of Aron and Hannah’s seven children. After her father died, she came to the US as a young child with her mother. They settled in Brooklyn, NY, where her older brother Harvey was living. He became a father figure to her and she was deeply upset when he passed away in 1934. She married Harry Bricker, Ph.D. in August of 1921. Reve and Harry had 2 children, Arnold and Jud, both of whom, were brilliant boys. Arnold, who is central to this story, was a young doctor who went to help out at a boy’s camp during a polio epidemic. He contracted polio and died on the way to the hospital. He was only 24. My Great-aunt was devastated and spent the rest of her life seeking out mediums and séances to try to connect with him.
As a young married couple, Reve and Harry, purchased 2 acres of land on Lake Candlewood in Brookfield, CT. Since Harry was a school principal, he had the summers off. There were 2 homes on the land and a walking path down to the lake where they had a dock. They loved to tend the land and had beautiful gardens and fruit trees. They loved entertaining there and we all visited every summer. We have very fond memories of the time we spent there. For more on the Lake Candlewood property, see my other blog:
My Great-aunt Reve was the only adult I knew who could wear out a bunch of kids. She was short in stature, about 5’ at her tallest, but full of energy, never sitting still. Every time she saw us, she would swing us around and chase us. On Passover, she always brought us Barton’s Passover Chocolate Lollipops. What a treat they were since we were not allowed to have candy in our house!
Aunt Reve died on June 26, 1976. She had faithfully exercised daily until she decided she had had enough. The last time I saw her, she had a dislocated shoulder. You can find other stories and even videos of her in the Blieden section of this website.
Jud sold the property to 2 different people after both of his parents died. At all cousin and sibling gatherings, we always reminisce about our time spent at Aunt Reve and Uncle Harry’s summer home.
Fast forward to December 2019. Jud, now 92, and I email regularly and in one email, he mentioned that he was sending me a picture. Ok, I thought it was going to be an old family picture. I open my mail the day it arrived and this is what I saw:
There were also 2 letters which were hard to read but I did pick out that this picture (I later learned it was taken in 1980) was being given to the Warrens for their research. If you never heard of the Warrens, they were famous in the Connecticut area for being ghost hunters.
I emailed Jud and asked what the picture was about. He said he was told it was the ghost of his mother. OK, what was I to think?! I told a few people and we were all skeptical.
About 2 weeks later, I had a friend, Eric Turcio, come over for lunch. He had just moved back to Connecticut from California. I have known Eric since he was 13. We met at the ballroom dance studio where we both took lessons and have remained friends ever since. He attended Quinnipiac University where he started the Ballroom Society. He asked Stan and me to be advisors. After he graduated, we continued to follow his career as a journalist for NBC News in Montana, as a professional ballroom teacher and coach in California, and as a Medium. Yes, that is correct – a Medium!
After lunch I showed him the picture. I just showed him the picture and did not say anything else. The color drained from his face. I said is that what I think it is, and he said “yes”. Then without any prompting on my part, he said she wants us to know that she is with her son and she is happy. Then he said he is seeing the letter “A”. At this point, I am in shock. If you remember from the earlier paragraphs, my Great-aunt Reve lost her son, Arnold, at a young age.
After talking to my sister, Avra, about what occurred with Eric, we decided to try to find out exactly where the Brookfield property was. I did some googling and up popped a story, an interview written in 2012 by Jaime Ferris for the Litchfield Community Times, a Connecticut newspaper. Not only did he interview Gail Martin, the woman in the picture above, but the exact photo appeared in his article.
Basically, it said that she and her husband had just brought the property and she was outside working. Her husband came outside with a camera and they were laughing and saying this would be proof that she was outside working. It wasn’t until they developed the film (yes, back in 1980 we used film!) that they saw the other image. They just thought it was a double-exposure and that somehow his mother’s photo got into this one. They put the pictures away and thought nothing more. In 1994, Gail and her sister decided to attend a series of workshops with the Warrens, whom I mentioned before. She saw similar photos there and remembered the one she had, but where could it be? Since the photo was taken, she had had 2 children and had tons of photos stored in lots of boxes in her basement. She went down to look for it, and believe it or not, it was on top of a pile of pictures in the first box she opened. She showed her picture to the Warrens and they said it looked authentic. She still wanted more proof so she took it to two photography studios that developed film and asked if this was a double-exposure or if anything else was wrong with the picture. That is all she said. They both said no, that this was the way the picture was taken.
To read the article in its entirety go here:
Now that I had corroboration for what Eric told me, I really wanted to talk to this woman, Gail, who was in the photo.
I found her phone number and called her. After I explained who I was and how I was related to Reve Bricker to her answering machine, she picked up! She had no more to add to the story than the information she had given the reporter in 2012. However, we had a good time talking about the property now, and how I remembered it. When the second house became available a few years ago, she and her husband purchased it. She now owned both houses so it is back to the way it was when Aunt Reve and Uncle Harry purchased the property. We ended the call by her promising to call me if she ever notices anything else unusual happening on the property.
In the meantime, I am convinced that Aunt Reve did return, and did enjoy seeing how the property looked.