Happy Birthday Miss DeLamar! (and Shakespeare)

As my obsession continues to further uncover Alice’s life story I’m routinely struck by the tidbits of info that continue to seep into my Inbox.  These nuggets of insight allowing us to peek inches further into Alice– who today, would be 122 – are pure joy to receive.

Beyond thinking about Alice today I also find myself heading to the exquisite Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island this week where there are walls full of paintings and sketches by Miss DeLamar’s friend Ludwig Bemelmans.  The collection is meticulously framed and well-lit among the hotels’ purely breathtaking décor. Everyone should visit Ocean House at least once in their lifetime.  Miss DeLamar would have found it simply sublime.

In keeping with Miss Delamar’s unrelenting desire to keep the spotlight off of her, let me steer your attention away and share a juicy and detailed blog post by gifted writer Mr. Bradbury Kuett so you can revel in Mr. Bemelmans’ life story (and pretend we’re not all still thinking and wondering about Miss DeLamar):

http://www.bradburykuett.com/2017/03/20/ludwig-bemelmans-count-de-la-rochefeucauld-and-an-american-beauty-unmasked/

 

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Alice would be so proud…Keith was one of her favorites and judging from their letters the friendship ran deep.  Keith’s work lives on….

http://bit.ly/venu34

screenshot-2017-02-26-13-58-23 screenshot-2017-02-26-13-57-59

 

 

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Christmas at the DeLamar household

I often wonder how Alice celebrated the holidays….there isn’t much said in her cards, papers and letters other than brief descriptions of menu recommendations for her cook and the mention of hosting a few cocktail parties.

Here are two of her favorite Christmas cards that she’d sign as “Joyeuse Noël, Bonne Année” with either her full signature or simply “Love, A”….

Merry Christmas dear Alice….2017 just might be your year to finally get that manuscript published!

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The proof is in the…..box.

Another hint surfaces! There was indeed “a book” as we see here in a note from a friend.  I recently received a collection of papers, letters, photos and manuscript notes (handwritten notes of Alice’s)  further proving her intent and progress in writing her father’s (and undoubtedly her own) life story.  The box sat under her chauffeur’s bed post-1983 until it was ‘handed over’ to someone looking into the story of one of Alice’s artists.  Why do these boxes of treasures make their way into the light of day…and MOST intriguingly, why did people save Alice ephemera for decades?

And why so much mystery still surrounding this generous soul? Why won’t my main sources just come out and admit that this manuscript did, in fact, exist? I have amassed pages…. 100s at this point…of Alice musings and the stories of her tribe’s antics….names, addresses, calendar entries of where she was and when throughout most of the Midcentury….all telling the life story of Alice DeLamar. Yes there were Communists, yes there were the straight, the gay and the undecided, and yes there was scandal and gossip. Nothing we haven’t all read in our latest Vanity Fair issues or read on FaceBook!

 

Book Reference

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Another DeLamar mystery to be solved…

Pembroke Gates 2

So I’m quite surprised, and I admit, slightly humored, by the fact I haven’t yet received a call from the Glen Cove police regarding these gates….if ANYONE would want this piece of history it surely would be me.  To have and to hold these dear DeLamar relics, maybe put them in my yard so I could touch the past, daydream about who all passed through them…if $2000 was all it took to get my hands on these, I would have called Mr. DiStefano Sr. myself and made an offer years ago.

Alice should have swiped them back in the ’30s and hauled them up to Weston Conn. – they would have perfectly framed the beginning of that 11 acre estate starting at the base of Norfield Road just before that long driveway leading to a piece of history soon to be revealed….

Hey Mr. DiStefano, if I get any tips or leads I’ll be sure to call you….

Pembroke Gates

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“Darling…”

I was pleased to see 19 pages dedicated to my subject in Louis-Geraud Castor and Willy Huybrechts’ coffee table book “Eyre de Lanux, An American Decorator in Paris”. The pleasant peek inside Alice’s friendship with Eyre was a little light, but it did reinforce this ongoing sketch that Alice left us with… unrequited loves, clandestine affairs and unnoted generosity.

Eyre de Lanux photo

I studied the text of the book, hoping for deeper clues into their relationship and plunged back into my own “Eyre” file of letters between the two women to discover a deep friendship, authentic adoration, and a shared interest in travel. I had the delicious opportunity to read the Eyre de Lanux archive, housed at the Archives of American Art (twice!)and their scholarly Journal described the cache as:

“A remarkable assemblage of personal ephemera constituting something akin to…“an archive of feeling”. In diaries, letters photographs and sketches we find an archive of emotion that documents moments of intimacy, sexuality and love stretching from the 1920s to 1970s.”

Letters Eyre

Between Alice sending Eyre a monthly allowance, she also sent short story anthologies, ‘postals’ from her trips around the world, newspaper clippings, sandals from Venezuela and a permanently pleated nightgown which was the newest thing in fashion. A favorite sentiment expressed in a 1964 letter, to be repeated by Alice several times over during a flurry of correspondence,

“Would you perhaps like to arrive in Florence by train, meet me, spend two days there, and motor down, not hurriedly to Rome, then time to rest of pleasantly and then the plane to Athens? – perhaps one week there and the plane back to Rome again, then where? Then a swim on one coast of the other – Is there anything nice on the Adriatic Coast? Shouldn’t one go and see? I think we will also have many swims during our week in Greece.”

And in Eyre’s exquisitely ornate dark felt pen script:

“If I can come to you at the perfect moment it, for me will be a happy thought.” And “I am tempted to say yes…what kind of clothes does one need? Where does the cruise leave from? I am deep in my book – but I remember the regret of not going to Russia with you!” Love, indeed, Eyre.

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Missing: “Turn of the Century”…..last seen in Weston, Conn. August 31, 1983

If there was ever any doubt (and I admit, there were indeed times when it seeped in) I finally found proof in Alice’s own handwriting,

August 9th, 1973: I have started to get at the ‘turn of the century’ memoirs that I am trying to do.  My biggest confusion is which episodes to put first and which next…

Ah-ha!…. tell me about it!  With the 1000s of letters, collections of daily calendars, boxes of pictures, slides and cards, I too often wonder which episodes of Alice’s most wonderfully colorful and attempted private life to put in which order.

Alice’s life was one full of travel, reading, entertaining, gardening, and culture spanning two World Wars, The Depression and The Midcentury. I have the voices of her friends, her tenants, and even her last secretary in my head from numerous interviews. Oh yes indeed, didn’t I tell you? “Miss Mac.” the elusive and last secretary of Miss DeLamar’s exists!  She lives! She remembers!  And she certainly had nice things to say about working for Miss DeLamar (despite hauling all of Alice’s personal belongings into trash bags the day Alice died) ….and yet she remained steadfast in a tight lipped refusal to tell me anything new or anything that could be “quoted”.  Although perhaps that furthers our case …there is indeed a load of secrets being kept out there.  When I recently, out of exasperation, asked sources point-blank and perhaps more forceful than in the past, “Where is the manuscript?” the faces inevitably turn away and the eyes avert.  What on earth are these people hiding??

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