Alice’s mother, Nellie Sands, divorced her father and essentially disappeared from her life when she was just two years old. The family had been living mostly in Paris, and a few years after the divorce, five-year-old Alice moved back to New York City with her father, while her mother remained in Paris.
Joseph De Lamar traveled often for business, overseeing his mines out West.
During these periods, Alice stayed at the Sherry Netherlands Hotel in New York, with servants looking after her.
“My parents divorced when I was two years old. We lived in Paris and I would spend the weekend with my mother and the rest of the week with my father. When I was five years old, my father and I moved back to New York and I saw my mother again only when I was 15. I got along very badly with my father. I was rebellious, and my education was neglected. My godfather, William Nelson Cromwell, was a lawyer for Spence School, and he sent me to that school for girls when I was 12 years old. It changed my life and brought me for the first time since I was five a sense of security. I suddenly had two allies: Mr.Cromwell and the head of the school (Clara Spence). They stood behind me. They had me spend the summer holidays with my mother in Paris starting when I was 15.”
(Letter from Alice to her friend, Edith Taylor)