Reve Blossom Blieden Bricker (circa 1892 – June 26, 1976) and Family
Reve was the daughter of Hannah Wolfson and Aron Isaac Bliden.
I was told that my Great-Aunt Reve was a little girl when she made the voyage to come to this country. I assumed that “little” meant she was three or four. However, if you look closely at the ship manifest for “Roberta” below, you will see that it says she was eleven.
Reve’s father died in February of 1893 and Reve was not named after him. Therefore, she must have been born before he passed away. On some records, it says she was born in Lithuania, but in most it says she was born in Latvia. I assume she was born in the same town and country that the family mill was located in. However, I am still not sure whether that was in Lithuania or Latvia. The family had a saw mill and the children enjoyed rolling on the logs when they were little. I had also heard the Bliedens produced the flour for the city of Riga. Could the mill have been both a sawmill and a grain mill or was this just another example of a family story with no facts to back it up?
We do know that she travelled to the United States with her mother and arrived at Ellis Island on August 25, 1903, making her about 10 years old. They were detained for a Special Inquiry but then were allowed to enter the country. They were going to Reve’s older brothers, Abe and Meyer, in Brooklyn, New York. The brothers emigrated in 1902 and saved enough money to pay for tickets for their mother and youngest sister.
Reve and her mother were the last of the family to leave. Reve’s oldest sister left in 1891 to visit the United States but ended up getting married and staying here. Reve probably was not even born when her sister left, so she really did not knew her before coming to the United States in 1903.
In the 1910 Census, Reve lived at 24 Stockton Street and is listed as 17 years old and working as a bookkeeper in a hardware store. By then, she could speak and read English, something her mother never learned to do.
We know from letters, photos, and family stories that she was an independent young lady who considered herself a suffragette. She was athletic, fun-loving, full of energy, and loved to travel. The social pages of local newspapers were like the Facebook of their day, and her activites were often documented.
In 1916, she visited with her oldest sister’s family in Harrisburg, PA. They spent a day at Sunshine Park where lots of photos were taken.
In 1918, she returned to Harrisburg for a visit, continued to stand on street corners for the suffragette movement, and obtained some kind of mortgage.
However, the Flu pandemic was rampant and by the end of the year, Reve caught it as did her brother, Meyer, who was living in Harrisburg. Reve recovered, but unfortunately, her brother did not. Throughout her life, she felt guilty that she survived and he did not.
The Flu pandemic lasted from 1918 – 1920 killing about approximately 675,000 in the United States and at kleas least 50 million deaths worldwide. For a timeline of timeline of events related to the 1918 Flu, click here.
In 1921, she married Harry C. Bricker, Ph. D.. The marriage license was signed by Maxwell Hamburger and Meyer Blumberg. Was Maxwell a close family friend or a relative? We don’t know but we do know that they stayed in touch throughout their lives. Meyer, was Reve’s half first cousin. Their mother’s were half-sisters.
Harry Bricker was born in Odessa, Russia, in 1893, to Louis Bricker and Lena Sambursky.
Although the marriage license shows differently, family lore has it that Reve was a few years older than Harry. She would never admit to that and always acted astonished and disgusted if she heard about a “older” woman marrying a younger man!
Reve and Harry travelled to Bermuda on their honeymoon. The pictures are proof of their fun personalities.
By 1930, she had given birth to 2 sons. She was living at 111 E. 10th Street in Brooklyn and they were able to afford a live-in servant.
On November 2, 1934, her beloved brother, Harvey, died suddenly from a heart attack. She wrote to his son Arthur, who was away at medical school, how much Harvey had meant to her and how devasted she was.
In April of that same year, her mother, Hannah, passed sadly away.
Dec. 2, 1934
Dear Nephew Arthur:
No doubt by now you have heard again from Mildred. Your folks, under circumstances, are all right. There is nothing that can be done now, nor will crying or worry over the situation alter it any, so we much all bear up, for my loss was as great as yours, he being just like my father in addition to brother. (I knew no other father but him.) He just seemed to live long enough to make sure your graduate Dr. for if he hadn’t you would not have been one, always remember that. His one big ambition was to see you through. As soon as he was sure you are making it, he left us – Sad and horrible, as it is, we must all cheer up, for life always goes on, and so much we thinking of him, our dear one, in the pleasantest way. I have begun to believe he is not gone, thinking of him in the present, expecting always to see him and feel him with us. It isn’t possible any other way. Grandma does not know and I may be able to keep it from her until the spring. From the day – it was raining daily and he can’t go out in bad weather, nor was he out all last winter, she remembers that, so she is prepared for the winter not to see him. Cheer up, the living must go on living and laughing, that is the way of the world, and we are part of it, nothing we can do any more. The crying cry alone and it does no one any good. What God hath so decreed, and I suffice he has, we must accept and smile.
Love from us all.
In the summers, Reve and Harry would go camping with their sons, or to a camping community where they took part in all kinds of activities, including performing in a play.
Check out the video clips under the Blieden menu to see Reve and Harry in action with their sons. There is even a clip of Reve in an exercise class!
By the 1940 Census, Harry had been appointed a Principal in an elementary school, and they were living at 358 Washington Ave. in Brooklyn
In 1947 Reve and Harry flew to Cuba on American World Airways. They flew back from Havana landing in Miami.
On August 23, 1949, tragedy struck again. This time, her first-born son, Arnold, a young physician, died from polio. He had volunterred to help out at a boy’s summer camp where there was a polio outbreak. He contracted polio and died en-route to the hospital.
Throughout the following years, she visited many mediums trying to find comfort and to reach out to her son.
Read my blog “Aunt Reve Returns” and see what you think.
Exactly 4 months later, her brother, Abe, passed away suddenly. Abe had retired from his jewelry store in Kansas City, MO, and moved to Brooklyn, NY, to live with her and Harry.
He left Reve his estate of $14,000, which today, would be equilavent to $174, 280.
In the 1950 Census, they were living at 305 Linden Blvd. in Brooklyn, NY. Jud was still living at home.
At some point after 1938, they bought 2 acres of land in Brookfield, CT, for a summer home. They built two houses on the property which had walking access to Candlewood Lake.
They loved entertaining their relatives and friends at the lake.
Read my blog called “Lake Candlewood Memories” to learn more about their summer home and what it meant to all of us.
Reve and Harry continued to travel. I know they visited Japan and London among other places.
In July of 1965, Harry died of a heart attack. He had retired in 1964 and had a known heart conition.
(obituary from the Canarsie Courier (Brooklyn, NY, Thursday, Jul. 29, 1965, page 1)
Reve’s son Jud married Ruth Nilsen in 1956. They had 2 children. Below Reve is with her grandson, who was born in 1967. In the early 1970’s when she became frail and starting breaking bones, my father had her move into his house so he could look after her.
She was back in CT, when she fell again and was moved to an assisted living facility in New Jersey.
Reve died on June 27, 1976, and is buried in Mt. Judah Cemeteryin Queens, NY, in the Blieden Bricker plot alongside her husband, son, Arnold, and her brother, Abe. She is buried in Secion 2, Block 18, Grave 2.
In 2006, her daughter-in-law, Ruth, sent me the following description of Reve:
Reve Blieden Bricker was born in Riga, Latvia. She moved to the US with her mother at a very young age. The family resided in Brooklyn and she was the youngest. She attended local schools and graduated from high school.
Reve was a very independent young lady at an early age. In our house, we have a picture of her attired in a long dress and standing next to a highback chair which was taken by a local photographer. She was 16 at the time. The story behind this picture is as follows: She was arguing with her mother as to when she could wear a long dress (girls wore short dresses until they were young ladies)–she felt she was ready, her mother did not agree. So Reve saved her trolley fare to school each day–she walked–saved enough to buy a dress and also to go to a photographer, had her picture taken, and went home to announce to her mother, “You see I am to old enough to wear a long dress.”
As a young woman, Reve worked in a real estate office. She was also very active in support of Women’s Rights and spent many a time speaking on soap boxes for the women’s right to vote.
After Reve and Harry married and had their first son, Arnold Isiah, Reve stayed home to raise her son, as was typical of the time. Two and a half years later Judah was born. Arnold became a physician at the age of 22–unfortunately he was struck down (while being a physician at a children’s camp for the summer)by polio in l947. (The Salk vaccine was not in use until 1952). Jud graduated from Erasmus High School in Brooklyn in January, l944. He was drafted into the US Army on August 30, l945. He was able to attend night school at City College while in the Army–was honorably discharged and continued his education at City College graduating with a degree in Economics, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Columbia University and a law degree from Brooklyn Law School (he has since been awarded a Juris Doctor degree ). He practiced business and law for a few years but had not yet found his calling.
He married Ruth Karen Nilsen on July 6, l956 at the home of Rabbi David Eichorn (a head Rabbi of the Armed Forces during WWII and a Rabbinical Scholar in Reform Judaism). It was a small wedding attended only by Ruth’s parents, Jud’s parents and Ruth’s sister, Jean, and Jud’s cousin, Bernard Blieden. At that point, Jud found his true calling in education. He went on to get a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. He began his career teaching mathematics on the High School level and becoming a school administrator 10 years later, until he retired in l984. They then moved to North Carolina where they have resided ever since.
Jud’s parents spent many happy years entertaining relatives for the summer at their home on Candlewood Lake, Brookfield, CT. Reve enjoyed having the family around, serving them meals and seeing to their happiness.
Reve died in l976 and was buried alongside her husband in Mt. Judah Cemetery in Queens. Since she was always a very observant Jew in her home and kept Kosher, she was buried in a shroud and had a person sit with the body prior to the funeral. This tradition we felt would be in keeping with her beliefs.
Arnold Bricker (1925 – 1949)
Arnold Isaiah Bricker was the beloved, first child born to Reve and Harry Bricker. When he was 2 years old, his brother Jud was born. Growing up the family loved to go camping. You can see how Jud and Arnold played together in the Video Clips under the Blieden menu.
Arnold graduated with honors from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn NY in 1941.
After high school he attended City Colleg in New York and after graduating, he attended the Long Island College of Medicine, class of 1947. Upon graduating from medical school, he completed his intership and residency at Cumberland Hospital. He then was a resident in radiology at Beth-El Hospital.
While in college, he was a member of the Cadueceus Society, an organizations for students interested in the medical and health fields.
In the summer of 1949, polio broke out at a boys camp in upstate New York. This ws before any vaccines were discovered. Arnold volunterred to go and help out at the camp. He contrated polio and died en-route to the hospital.
He is buried in the Bricker-Blieden plot in Mt. Judah Cemetery in Queens, NY. A plaque in his memory hangs in Cumberland Hospital.