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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“I have known sadness and dark days but I still have dreams and once I walked on diamonds.” (Note found amongst Keith Ingermann’s estate)

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Discovered at the age of 16 during a Palm Beach clothesline art exhibit in 1945, Keith Ingermann grew to become a favorite artist to former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Prince Rainier of Monaco, Baroness Pauline de Rothschild, and His Highness Maharana Bhagwat of Udaipur. With strikingly Hollywood good looks, charm, suave, wit and just the right amount of cattiness, Keith was every wealthy widow’s dream date.

IMG_4274Keith’s friends made up the Who’s Who of Monaco, San Remo, Palm Beach – and that included our dear Alice DeLamar. Keith and Alice traveled the world together and grew to become true friends, each appreciating each others’ quirks, eccentricities and sharing a love of beautiful things in the world…

“Alice was a very important person in my life and until the last day I will always love her and never stop being grateful for the life she made possible for me. Her help was not only financial but there was constant confidence, enthusiasm, and encouragement for me and my work.

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A year after Keith’s passing his closest friends extended great generosity and hospitality, allowing me to spend time in Keith’s studio reading letters, clippings, gallery catalogs and seeing his magnificent paintings on display and stacked away in cabinets and storage lockers.  Of course I was hunting for the manuscript and what I found, beyond clear indication of the depth of his friendship with Alice, was a most complex yet incredibly gifted and highly social man. His last show was du 20 juillet au 13 septembre 2007 at the Quai des restaurant in magical Monaco.

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Happy Birthday Alice!

Alice Antoinette DeLamar came into this world 120 years ago today. While I doubt she would have wanted any hubbub of a party and certainly not a surprise party (oh dear, that would have been rattling), I do imagine she would have been surrounded by The Madam, Aileen, Twig (pre-betrayal), a Jones sister or three, Petey, Ned, Dick, Ouida, Thad, George, Keith. Who am I kidding – there would have definitely been a party and in Palm Beach by the pool. Drinks in hand, clusters of chaise lounges alongside the palms, lunch al fresco, Limoges plates filling tables, accompanying silverware gleaming, a lot of gossip and someone with a Rolleiflex capturing the expressions, antics and the unwrapping of the gifts.  Just what would one buy Alice?  She treasured books, glass paperweights, paintings and flowers. She loved ashtrays from ships, hotels and restaurants too but she usually pocketed those herself.

This picture taken on property at South Ocean Boulevard, allows us a very rare view of Alice….her expression of freedom and happiness, almost a smile. I’d like to think there were more moments such as these for dear Alice over her 88 years.

In an April 23rd 1946 diary entry she wrote:

“Tues 23 – Birthday (51!) swam at Ocean House…Fished all afternoon in boat Katia chartered, caught 2 nice dolphins”

Alice April 23

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