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This document contains what I remember about Uncle Pete, i.e. Daniel da Cruz Jr, my father's brother: Son of Daniel da Cruz Sr. (born in Portugal as Manuel da Cruz Narciso in 1880) and Lenore Susan Maria Rager da Cruz. Besides my own memories, I have letters, family albums, documents, and a lot of help from his children: Lina and Danny (Daniel III), my first cousins, and from Rif Haffar, my first cousin-in-law. This is just one part of a larger document addressed to my own children. Key:

Dad = my father, Francis da Cruz Sr., first son of Daniel da Cruz.
Pete or Uncle Pete = Daniel Patee da Cruz, second son of Daniel da Cruz.
Gus = Pete's mother Lenore and my grandmother.
Leila = Leila Shaheen da Cruz, Pete's wife.
Danny and Lina = Pete's children.
Mommy = Judy Scott (my ex-wife).
You, you guys, Peter, Amy = my children Peter and Amy da Cruz.
—Frank da Cruz <fdc@columbia.edu>
Most recent update: 7 September 2022 08:52:17

Uncle Pete...

I deliberately—to the extent I did anything deliberately in my late teens and early twenties—stole from him. I wanted to be like the polymathic, swashbuckling, self-assured, charming, somewhat subversive hard-ass that I saw him to be. And now as I read your story, I am enjoying a morning of self-congratulatory triumph at having, to some extent, been like Dan. And at realizing that my teenage suspicion that this would be an interesting life turns out to be the case. —Rif Haffar (his nephew), January 2018
Uncle Pete in 1940
Uncle Pete in 1940
My dad's brother: Daniel Pattee da Cruz (Pete), born Nov 17, 1921, Oxford OH, died January 5, 1991 (cancer), George Washington University Hospital in Washington DC, buried in Arlington National Cemetery: Area 63 Columbarium CT3. This is at the extreme east end near the Pentagon. His Mom, Gus, called him Pete and we did too, but everybody else knew him as Daniel or Dan. Pete called my dad Fran (my mother and his mother called him Roach).

Dad and Pete 1934
Dad and Pete 1934
Pete grew up with Dad in Oxford OH, but also in other houses with other families, at least in Washington DC, Bozman MD, and (in the 1940s) Arlington VA with their mother, my grandmother Gus. I'm pretty sure, but not certain, that they were kept together the whole time. I know they were together in Bozman and in Oxford, but Dad was 3½ years older. Dad was a pretty poor student; I think Pete must have been a better one — he went to Miami University in Oxford right after high school (unlike his brother, who worked at odd jobs for two years before his father made him go to the University of Maryland, where he lasted exactly one semester). At some point before 1941 Pete transferred from Miami to George Washington University in DC and lived with Gus but (as he wrote to me in 1964) "I flunked out of school before the war". In the late 1930s he and his friends had been anti-war, believing it was all just another big boondoggle for the arms industry, like WWI, but later he changed his mind and enlisted in the Marines in May 1941, several months before Pearl Harbor. In his own words (from a 1965 letter):
I recall with utmost clarity an all-night stag party of a bunch of us young-bloods just before we were to enter the university. We were all classmates. The date was September 1, 1939, and toward morning we heard on the radio that the Germans had invaded Poland. By daybreak we had taken a solemn oath, one and all, that war was hell, that we would all refuse to go, and that nothing would change our minds. Within three years everyone of us was in it.

Pete Parris Island 1941
Pete's basic training platoon Parris Island 1941
Pete in the Marines 1942
Private 1942
Pete in the Marines 1947
Platoon Sergeant 1947
Uncle Pete was my hero as a kid. He was hand­some, adven­turous, good-humored, demon­strative, curious about every­thing, spoke many languages (so it seemed to me as a child, but his son Danny adds: "none too well, but a passable ability in several"), and always was full of energy and enthusiasm and stories of his adventures. He had the good looks and to some extent the manner of fellow WWII veteran Paul Newman, although in fact (he told me himself) he patterned himself on Simon Templar, The Saint (a series of books by Leslie Charteris... the early ones, not the later ones).

North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber
North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber

His academic career was put on hold by World War II (inscription found in one of his books by Danny in May 2019, given to him by his mother Gus for Christmas 1941: "Merry Christmas to my darling. Be brave. Ma"), where he saw combat on land, sea, and air in the Atlantic and Pacific as an enlisted man in the Marine Corps. He flew in the front bubble of B-25 bombers as a navigator-bombardier...

Danny says his dad had a story about a training flight where "they got lost above the clouds somewhere over Georgia and they had to bring the plane down below the clouds and close enough to ground to read highway signs, with binoculars I presume, to get their bearings."

B-24 Liberator
Consolidated B-24 Liberator
By the way — and Danny disputes this — I think he also flew in B-24s because he told me so when I was 10 or so while admiring my plastic models of both planes; I definitely knew the difference. I remember he mentioned that bailing out from the front compartments could result in being chopped up by the inboard propeller, which makes sense if you look at where the emergency exits are. Jumping out of the rear exits is safer but if the ship is damaged or on fire that might not be possible. Of course the pilot could also stop the engines and feather the props... Oh well, too late to go back for clarification.

Pete also sailed on the USS Texas and the USS Augusta where he was severely injured in a 5-inch gun explosion, and he fought on Guam where he got "jungle rot", a skin condition that lasted for many years (and eventually had an operation after which his whole head was wrapped in bandages like a mummy, I saw him like that but don't have a picture). He was also on Okinawa and Iwo Jima. I'm sure there's a lot more to his war record but that's all I think I know.

USS Augusta
USS Augusta
USS Augusta
Atlantic Conference
USS Texas
USS Texas
The Ayes of Texas
The Ayes of Texas
His experiences on the Texas and the Augusta provided the background for his Ayes of Texas books. The Augusta, by the way, is the same ship where Roosevelt and Churchill had their first face-to-face meeting in August 1941 and issued the Atlantic Charter, the document that established the principal that every country had the right to rule itself, which spelled the eventual doom of colonialism (this was after the gun explosion). Danny notes:
It was also the flagship of Admiral Ernest King [standing, second from right, in the second image] at the time, and Dad fondly remembered Admiral King putting his coat on Dad's shoulders one cold night when he was on duty as his orderly. It was later General Patton's flagship during the invasion of North Africa.
When he was injured in the explosion my dad found out about it in a comminique that arrived at his code station at the Navy Department. He told Gus and Gus went to meet him when the ship came back, and nursed him until he was ready to live the horrors of Pacific islands; I don't have any stories about this, neither does anybody else — he didn't talk about it much; I vaguely recall some graphic descriptions of the jungles of Guam, but not the details. He was released from service in 1947 as a Platoon Sergeant E6 (three stripes and a rocker). To see what the war in the Pacific islands was like for US Marines, see HBO "The Pacific" miniseries (2010) produced by Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman.

Uncle Pete with cousins in Portugal
Portugal 1951
After that, he traveled around on his own, with no money — he rode a Vespa with a sidecar all over Europe (including in Portugal to find our family there). According to family legend, he stayed with nomadic Sámi in arctic Scandinavia for a year, traveled with nomads in the Iraqi desert (probably during or after his State Department assignment there), worked as a copper miner in Mexico and/or Butte, Montana, lived with Hopis in the southwest, worked as sharecropper, as a taxi driver in DC, etc — wrote lots of books, spoke (or at least studied) lots of languages (Spanish, Arabic, Caddo, probably French, maybe some Sámi, who knows what else). He even lived in Harlem for a while on or near Riverside Drive at some point, a short walk from where we ourselves lived when he visited us in 1979.

Me and Pete 1948
Pete and me in 1948
Pete oiled
Pete oiled up
During his wandering years, Pete would show up at our house unexpectedly every so often, on a Vespa or in some kind of modified jalopy with the seats ripped out, so he could sleep in it, wearing a ragged old olive-drab Marine T-shirt and dogtags, or dressed like an Arab or an Eskimo or a bomber crewman, bringing us exotic presents from strange lands — chunks of copper ore from Mexico, elaborate Arab garb for whole family, an ornate curved dagger from Iraq that had been a murder weapon, a reindeer-skinning knife from Lappland that I still have… Penniless, he would stay with us for a few weeks or months until he launched his next adventure. Danny found the "oiled up" picture, neither of us has any idea what's going on in it, but I don't think this was the jalopy I remember because (a) it's not a jalopy; (b) it's not grey and beat-up as I remember it; (c) the license plate does not look American; and (d) someone is sitting in a passenger seat but the jalopy I remember didn't have one.

Pete coins
Pete coins (click to see labels)
Every time he came he gave me coins from the lands he visited (including pre-Israel Palestine, the dark coin below center), and also little tutorials about the latest language he learned, which sparked my lifelong interest in languages and linguistics, which I almost majored in, thanks to him. Although I didn't quite major in it, I did spend a year with a truly inspiring linguistics professor, Erica García. I talked about her so much with Mommy's and my friend, Ricardo Otheguy, that he was inspired to study under her and became a well-known linguist himself.

Pete and my mom were very fond of each other, sometimes I think they both secretly thought that she married the wrong brother. I remember on one visit he put a lot of time into trying to teach my mom to drive. Unlike my dad, he was patient, gentle, and encouraging with her, but even so it didn't work out, she was terrified of driving. I don't know why because she tackled all sorts of other challenges with no fuss — Navy Basic Training, learning to cook, learning to make our clothes from scratch, etc.

Uncle Pete in diplomat costume
Diplomat pose 1952
After five years of traveling the world on a shoestring, Pete applied for a post at the State Department so he could get paid for doing the same thing, was hired there in 1952, and bought himself a new wardrobe he thought to be commensurate with his new status. This was an occasion that called for a photo session at Gus's house; the image at left is just one of many photos taken that day (see gallery), shortly before he was to travel to Baghdad and assume his new rôle as Press Attaché at the US Embassy. Danny says:
My dad was a foreign service officer, but on information/press and not policy — to the best of my knowledge. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I think past attendance at one or two "communist" meetings or talks, in Oxford, OH I think, together with the frantic anti-communist witch hunts in the 50s eventually led to him leaving or being drummed out of the service [in 1953]. This would be ironic, of course, because he was a chronic critic of the commies.
This jibes with what Pete once told me himself about having been involved in antiwar activities during the runup to the US entry in WWII. I'm not sure how his later aversion to communism came about (after all, without the USSR the Allies would have lost the war in Europe), but it is the main theme in his 1980s Texas books. Danny found the source of "communist" allegation was Pete himself, something he wrote in a personal history statement in a government job application:
In the fall of 1938, while editor of my high school paper, I attended a CP meeting in Cincinnati to hear Earl Browder speak and write a report on it. The report, in editorial form, was not favorable.
Danny says:
I think the years between the war and the mid-fifties were years of what would be called these days 'finding himself' — I don't think he ever did, as he was always searching for some interesting adventure, learning something new (piano and flying in his sixties, for example) or attempting some great endeavor. Even in his last few months, when he was in pain with bone metastases and bed-ridden, he was hatching grand schemes or working on new book outlines. He was itinerant during the years between the war and the early- to mid-1950s, looking for adventure, chasing dreams, looking for employment... probably quite hard years, as I have found (in much less desperate circumstances) when I aimed for something different outside the mainstream. He did a very wide range of jobs, in different towns all over the country and Europe (taught English in Madrid, movie extra in Sweden, and lots more), never for long. I think he was meant to live in another era, not a world of corporations and pensions.
Amen! Finally after six years of military service and about eight more years of knocking around, he resumed his formal education in the mid-1950s, enrolling at Georgetown University in Washington DC and living with his mother. It turns out the "living with Hopis" story (and they weren't actually Hopis) is rooted in a research project for his degree in Linguistics in 1956, when:
Georgetown undergraduate student Daniel Da Cruz traveled to Oklahoma in the company of his linguistics professor, Paul Garvin. While Garvin worked on Wichita, Da Cruz woked with a Caddo woman named Sadie Bedoka Weller. In 1957 he finished a senior essay on the phonemes of Caddo, but he did not pursue linguistics further ... Other Caddo speakers have contributed to our knowledge of the language in a variety of ways, but Mrs. Weller stands out as the most important of all Caddo consultants. She was born in 1901 and died in 1970.
—Michael D. Picone and Catherine Evans, New Perspectives on Language Variety in the South: Historical and Comtemporary Approaches, University of Alabama Press (2015), ch.3.
The Caddo Nation is a confederation of tribes from Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas (more info here). The Caddo people were removed to Indian Territory in 1859. They are also known as Kadohidacho, Hasinai, Hatsinai. Danny has a November 2017 email from emeritus linguistics Professor Wallace Chafe at UCSB that says:
I never met your father. When I first met Sadie Bedoka Weller in 1959 your father had already been there, and Sadie mentioned him often and fondly. My understanding was that your father had been an undergraduate at Georgetown and that he came to Oklahoma with his professor, Paul Garvin, who was himself working on the Wichita language. In 1957-58 your father tape-recorded a number of sessions with Sadie and used the material as the basis for a senior essay on the phonemes of Caddo. It was called "A Revised Analysis of Segmental Phonemes in Caddo"[1]. He was kind enough to give me all his Caddo tapes before he went to Lebanon. I eventually digitized all his recordings and they are now living on my hard drive. I continued working with Sadie through the 1960s, until she died in 1970. I became involved in a number of other projects after that, and only recently got back to pulling together a description of Caddo that I hope to publish in another year or two. What your father did was quite valuable, and I will certainly give him full credit for it.
Pete Georgetown U graduation 1957
GU graduation 1957
The recordings, 30 of them in all (on which you can hear Uncle Pete's voice), are now available in the University of California Language Archive:
http://cla.berkeley.edu/collection/10163 for the main page to the collection.
Pete graduated Magna cum Laude from Georgetown University in Linguistics in 1957, 20 years after graduating from high school. His mother Gus had died in 1955 and his father Daniel was 77 years old and 1600 miles away in Colorado Springs, but my Mom, Dad, brother Dennis and I came, and I was the official photographer at age 12 (see more photos in the gallery).
  1. Daniel da Cruz, A Provisional Analysis of Segmental Phonemes in Caddo, Submitted to the Institute of Languages and Linguistics of Georgetown University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Science in Linguistics, May 1957. Sent to me by Professor Anthony Grant, Edge Hill University: "As a linguist interested in Caddo, with a close friend who lives in Oxford OH (and who also has Portuguese ancestry) I was intrigued to read your family history. I've known about Daniel's Caddo work for decades (and have a copy of his senior essay), but I hadn't fully realised the same Daniel da Cruz was the thriller-writer. ... And his teacher, Paul Garvin, is one of my linguistic heroes. ... Here's the paper. Your uncle must have given it to Paul G and Wallace Chafe (RIP, a nice man), Wally passed it onto Lynette Melnar, who gave it to me. I'm delighted and honoured to return this treasure to the family. Most of it is from Sadie, some from a lady named Eva Luther. Wally Chafe incorporated this into his book on Caddo which appeared in autumn 2018[2], a few months before he died in February last year."
  2. Wallace Chafe, The Caddo Language: A Grammar, Texts, and Dictionary Based on Materials Collected by the Author in Oklahoma Between 1960 and 1970, Mundart Press, ISBN 978-0-9903344-1-5 (2018).

Aunt Leila


Leila 1960
Aunt Leila 1960
Leila 2013
Aunt Leila 2013
Leila Shaheen, born in Lebanon, 1927. Daughter of father Nikula Chahine (1897-1984) and mother Hanneh Khoury (1906-1985). "Chahine" is the French spelling. Other parts of the family use "Shahine". All three are transliterations of the Arabic شاهين.

Men Who Made America 1962
Men who Made
America (1962)
By Fall 1957 Uncle Pete had wound up in Lebanon, established himself as an English professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB), met and married Leila, and raised a family. He published a book Men Who Made America, an ESL reader for use in his classes at AUB. He also juggled other gigs there to supplement his income; he was the Lebanon rep for various US publishers, he was editor of Middle East Journal, he was well-known lecturer, he worked for Aramco as a writer... There are dozens of articles by him; 26 of them are listed below, or you can search Google for aramco "daniel da cruz" see what else there might be. He wrote me in 1964 that "I've been working on articles for an oil company publication called Aramco World. The prestige is nil but the pay is about half as good as the top magazines — and altogether I wrote fifteen articles for them on Middle Eastern subjects ranging from Arabic calligraphy to the history of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline and underwater archaeology"). He was also the Middle East correspondent for various newspapers and magazines including Business Week and Air Transport World, and published articles in Readers Digest, National Review, and numerous other well-known outlets. And as a stringer for an international news agency he covered the Six Day War as well as the insurrections in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan in the 1958-1970 timeframe (see 1971 World Wide Lecture Bureau flyer). Once when he was researching advances in telecommunications (for a New York Times article, as I recall) he stumbled upon some articles I had published in Data Communications magazine and called me up from wherever he was at the time.

Leila 1960s
Leila mid-1960s
Leila was a prominent business executive; I met her several times, once when I was in high school and once in the Army; she had the beauty of Sophia Loren and spoke (it seemed to me) an infinite number of languages — Arabic, English, German, Italian, Spanish, French, ... Pete was smart but I thought Leila was smarter. They were truly a striking couple. Btw, Leila is pregnant with Lina in the 1960 photo at upper left; she made a note of it on the back. Danny says:
She was an accomplished woman in her own right. In business, she was editor-in-chief and head of a publishing company that for many years of put out a bunch of American comics in Arabic — Little Lulu, Superman, Batman... — these were among the few interesting/fun texts kids could read and enjoy in the Middle East back in the 60s and 70s, when most other publications were dry or religious. (An ex-employee of hers put together a paean to the Arabic version of Little Lulu, which I helped him convert to a website — not much there but here's the link). She, her mother and her sisters were always very active in serving the YWCA and the American University of Beirut hospital, and mom volunteered there a day a week up until her mini-stroke earlier this year (she's much better now). She was the member of the World YWCA Executive Committee and also wrote a small history of the YWCA in Lebanon, and about her experiences as the long-time work on the committee. Her sister still runs the institution in Lebanon, helping poor women from all denominations make a living for themselves and avoid predation.
In 1947 Leila witnessed the partition of Palestine. From her journal:
Palestine, Nov 30, 1947 - Saturday. Went out sight-seeing for the last time in the old city. Had a lovely time - All over the walls & going in thru all the gates. That night the partition of Palestine was decided by the U.N.O. and everything was spoiled.

Dec 24th - Left Palestine for the Lebanon. The trip was very pleasant until we had to go back from the British Nakoura to Haifa to renew the cholera injection certificates. Shooting in the Hadar area in Haifa. Otherwise all was safe except for the tension.

Danny explains (2018-01-14):
This entry relates to her brief time teaching in Palestine. After graduating from the American University of Beirut in spring 1947, my mother went to Palestine for the summer to kick back a bit and visit the family. She spent time visiting the country and the relatives, and by the end of summer she had an offer to teach at the Friends School in Ramallah (a Quaker school set up in the 19th century and still going strong). Both our grandparents (Palestinian grandmother and Lebanese grandfather) taught there, I suppose just after the First World War. In fact, they met there and the hitch was facilitated by the headmistress. Anyway, the head of the school still had very good memories of my grandmother and were in touch, so she offered my mother a job teaching high school, which my mom took.

By the time of partition a couple of months later, strife from both sides had begun and things were unsettled enough that the school closed. As she was planning to go to Beirut at Xmas to spend it with her family, she headed back — hence the [second] entry.

Naqoura used to be the main crossing between Lebanon and Palestine on the coast. I understand she was turned back from there for not having cholera shots and had to get them in Haifa. Mom said this morning that there was shelling between both sides in and around Haifa when she was there.

As of August 2020 at age 93, Aunt Leila still lives in Beirut in the same apartment where she and Uncle Pete raised Lina and Danny. She survived the August 4th Beirut explosion with some flying-glass wounds to her arm and leg and the apartment has broken windows but is still habitable.

Lina and Danny

Lina and Danny about 1965
Lina & Danny ~1965
Pete Leila Lina Danny 1987
Pete and Leila, Lina and Danny, 1987
Pete and Leila had two children, Lina born in 1960 (while we were in Frankfurt) and Danny born in 1962 — my first cousins (the only ones I have ever met; I have dozens on my mother's side); both are trilingual Arabic/English/French (and Spanish in Lina's case, "barroom level for me", says Danny). They grew up in Beirut with the constant bombing, shelling, shooting, and rock throwing of the 1960s and 70s that I used to see on the news every night, I was particularly worried every time in the TV news I saw an artillery shell slam into one of the high-rise apartment buildings like the one they lived in. Danny notes that Leila "was wounded in 1976 in our kitchen during a mortar bombardment. She was hit in the face, and smaller shrapnel in the neck, arm and torso (Dad called them his & hers wounds). A fantastic plastic surgeon and close friend and neighbour was the guy who took them out, and you can't tell looking at her that this all happened (I still have the mortar fins and the shrapnel that hit her)".

Family in exile
Family in exile 1978
Civil war in Beirut 1970s
Civil war in Beirut 1970s
Shortly after this the family left Beirut for 9 months of exile in the USA (Leila spent part of that time in Paris), as Pete put in a letter to me, "our year of the refugee, actually nine months, after 19 months of nonstop shooting got to the kids, especially after Leila got hit by six shrapnel in our kitchen." In a letter to my brother Dennis Pete writes (of Lina and Danny):
...they have both gained experience in hospital work under stress during the more active days of the civil war, when the bombs were falling around us, and they acted as nurses for the ghastly casualties who streamed in, sometimes up to 175 a day, so that the regular medical staff — what was left of them — couldn't cope with the load without volunteers like Lina and Danny.

We were considering, before we were offered a house and car rent free by a childhood friend of mine in Oxford, to go to California, very probably, coincidence, in Long Beach. My wife Leila has a first cousin with children the ages of ours, and it would have been good for them to have as companions. In retrospect, I rather wish we had gone, as it would have given them the opportunity of meeting your mother and you, the fresh air of California, and the sea which we missed.

In a 1979 letter to my dad, commenting on the gas lines in the US, Pete says:
I filled in Los Angeles after waiting for half an hour, and could happily predict the future from what grousing I saw. I find the Americans hopelessly spoiled, and wish them the worst ... They were not concerned for the many many years the Arabs were forced to accept one cent per barrel royalties for their oil, so they should shut up now. After all, nobody dictates to the U.S. the price they put on the wheat they sell the Russians. Anyway, let 'em cry — I love it ... Anyway, you still have it soft. In the war, which still goes on, less noisily to be sure, we have a lot tougher time of it than the Americans. We get water every other day -- sometimes, and electric cuts are frequent and for about eight hours at a time. I can see the Americans sticking that little inconvenience without revolution.
Uncle Pete and Peter
Pete and Peter 1978
Uncle Pete visited us at our West 118th Street apartment in Manhattan in 1978, shortly after my son Peter was born. Pete was a runner — the one who got me interested in it. On this visit he told me about how he ran through the war zones of Beirut every day. Within a few days I had started running too and didn't stop until nearly 40 years (and one marathon) later when my kneecap came loose.

Cousin Danny


I met Danny for the first (and so far, only) time in 1997; he was in NY for some business. He's a lot like his dad: polyglot, world traveler and adventurer, enthusiastic and ready for anything. He gave me some old family albums he found in his dad's apartment, which are the source of much of the information in here, and many of the photos. He has lived and/or traveled everywhere and knows the Portuguese side of the family.

Danny and Rula just married 2002
Wedding picture 2002
Rula, Rakan, Danny, Amin
Rula, Rakan, Danny, Amin 2017
Danny 2014
Danny 2014
Danny looks a lot like his Dad and he's a lot of fun. He and Rula Al-Chorbachi (who is Iraqi) were married in 2002 and have two sons, Rakan (2003) and Amin a.k.a. Nino (2005). When I met him he had a goatee exactly like Pete, same voice and mannerisms too, it was like he really was Uncle Pete.

Danny USNA 1980
Danny USNA 1980
Danny USNA 1980
Danny as USNA cadet and Pete 1980
Danny is a USNA graduate, he was in the US Navy for six years after the four years at the Academy starting around 1984 as an officer; then he was an international business consultant in London and later co-founded a sustainable energy project development company, Sindicatum. In 2009 he moved to Bahrain to start a joint venture, SCCMENA — Sindicatum Sustainable Resources Middle East and North Africa (in Bahrain): http://www.sindicatum.com, but when the business couldn't compete with heavily subsidized oil prices in the Mideast countries, he went to work for the bank that financed his previous business. As of 2017 he lives in Bahrain; has also lived in London, and (of course) Beirut and spends summers with his wife Rula's family in Cambridge MA. Rula is an architect, cohead of non-profit artists' collective. The kids are music (trumpet, piano, guitar, drums) and sports (soccer, basketball, capoeira) fanatics. Of his current (Nov 2017) situation, and of Lebanon, Danny says:
Work considerations aside, we are nearing the point where we want our kids to experience life in Europe or America. It's been hard to decide what a natural home for us would be at this stage, apart from London, so we're living with indecision while we examine options. It crosses my mind that Portugal is a place I'd like to spend time in, but since I still need to work it might be easier to do so in a primarily English-speaking country. Maybe later on in life we might make Portugal a base. Regrettably, and much as I love the place, Lebanon is not easy to think about for the long term because of the chronic political uncertainty and the regional forces that push and pull on the country.

I was in Beirut a few days ago to visit my mother and everyone is expecting another war between Israel and Hezbollah (they always are, mind you), which would mean another huge setback to the country if it happens. It's already struggling to cope with 1.5-2 million Syrian refugees, a stagnant economy, a destroyed middle-class, and a kleptocratic and feudal government made up of every sect and party. Those in power take every opportunity to stir their people against other groups, yet the politicians themselves are friendly towards each other and make money together. Sad, as our President Trump would say :-)  (Don't get me started on him…).

Danny is one of the major contributors to this history and to the family tree.

Cousin Lina


Lina and family
Lina, Adriana, Alexandra, Jean-Luc circa 2002
Lina and kids in NY 2010
Alexandra, Adriana, Amy, Lina 2010
Lina moved to Berkeley, California, in July 2008, after having lived in Lebanon, Bahrain, Japan, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and who knows where else. She is married to Jean-Luc Lamirande, who retired at 51 from Unilever, with two daughters. In 2010 they came to see Amy and me at my West 112th Street apartment and we spent an evening looking at old photo albums and talking a mile a minute, because we had whole lifetimes to talk about. I took them to Samad's deli around the corner so they could "talk Lebanese" for a while, and then we went for a big banquet at Symposium (Greek restaurant), around the next corner. Their daughters Adriana (born 1993) and Alexandra (1995) are very cool, super smart, funny, and (like their mother, uncle, and grandmother) speak English, French, and Arabic fluently (the Arabic I saw when we were at Samad's).

Here's an exchange I had with Lina about her Dad:

> I think Dad was a real right-wing Republican now that I
> look back at his politics and his point of view on things. Maybe
> right-wingers then were not as bad as they are now, at least I
> wouldn't want to put him in the Fox News/Paul Ryan camp, maybe Tea
> Party, though.
It's true he had a lot of right-wing positions, but I'd put him in the class of World War II veterans who came away from the experience with the sincere belief that the USA truly was the good guy, and so went along with a lot of the later stuff (e.g. Vietnam) because of that faith. In that he was probably just like Jimmy Stewart or Clark Gable. In most things I looked up to him; he valued diversity and respected other cultures, he was not a racist (unlike his brother), he didn't reject science or history like today's right wing, and he had a sense of humor. And curiosity! And unlike any of today's rabid war hawks he had actually served in the military and seen combat. And plus, he had a realistic view of the Muslim world, not the grotesque caricature that predominates today. He had some pretty strong views on Israel's role in the disasters of the world over the last 60 years, based on first-hand experience. My son Peter, by the way, is a big fan of your Dad, they'd get along famously. Not only about Israel but he also bought and read most of your dad's books.

Btw, I'm not sure if he was (or always was) a Republican. When I told him about my feelings on the Vietnam war, he said he used to be like me, he was a protester against getting involved in a European war for the benefit of war profiteers, but eventually came to be a big supporter of the war (obviously) and I presume also of FDR.

After Lebanon

Uncle Pete left Lebanon in the 1980s after his kids were grown up because it had become too dangerous for Americans to be there; the last straw was when he was kidnapped and friends of the family, particularly their surgeon friend Dr. Samir Shehadi, who wielded influence over the PLO at the time by virtue of all the lives he saved as a trauma surgeon, secured his safe release. Although the Shaheens were politically unconnected they had the affection and respect of many Beirut families through their educational and non-profit work. Leila remained behind; all her family was there. Her father was a long-time professor of physics and astronomy at the American University of Beirut.

Boot 1987
Boot (1987)
In later years Pete was an adjunct professor of anthropology at the Miami University of Ohio and the University of Wisconsin, and wrote right-wing science-fiction and adventure novels, nonfiction books, and magazine and newspaper articles. His best-known nonfiction book was "Boot" about Marine Corps boot camp, which he re-did in 1985 at age 64, 44 years after doing it the first time in 1941.

But in reality, Pete's politics didn't fit any particular mold. As noted, like many WWII veterans, he went through the rest of his life with the firm belief that the USA was the good guy, and therefore its adversaries — primarily the USSR — were the bad guys. He disagreed with my attempt to leave the Army in 1965 when the Vietnam "situation" turned into a full-scale war and at the same time the USA invaded the Dominican Republic. He wrote me a long letter on the topic, but (unlike those I received from my father) they were always affectionate and full of humor, noting that "my father told me that, as I was prepared to take the consequences of my acts, I was jolly well free to do anything I cared to do, with the proviso I didn't come crying later on when the consequences proved unbearable. I have so far been fortunate not to have to moan to him, although on more than one occasion my mother bailed me out when things got too sticky."

Nevertheless, he remained strongly anticommunist all his life, as his novels make abundantly clear. It is one trait he shared with my father, who was appalled when I was invited to the USSR to lecture on my work, but Danny says "I remember my father telling me about your trip, with some pride". Later on, both Pete and my dad admitted that I had a point about the Vietnam war. In any case Pete was not totally Rah-Rah-America as you can see from this November 11, 1981, Huntington WV Herald-Dispatch article about a series of lectures he was giving at Marshall University:

Life in Lebanon means bombs blasting outside your kitchen window, bullets puncturing the plaster and no police or army to protect you from gangs roaming the streets. ... He watched his children transported to school in convoys to avoid kidnapping. His family automatically moved around the house to escape the shaking of explosions, and he could point out the bullet holes in his walls. In an interview yesterday, the Middle East expert said foreign intervention has caused the chaos in Lebanon by supplying arms and magnifying minor outrages and incidents into excuses for war. He said major powers were using Lebanon as a testing ground for their weapons and armies with little concern for the inhabitants. They have brought their dirty laundry to air in Lebanon," he said. "Living over there you see daily the failure of American policy abroad. The Arabs are getting stronger, so the U.S. feels it must pour more support into Israel," he said. "They're just stockpiling gunpowder. The higher the pile gets, the more likely it is to go off." He concluded that the United States should withdraw from all diplomatic, political and military intervention and concentrate on commericial relations with countries that offer an equal exchange of goods. With the United States exerting its influence on the Arab nations, da Cruz said Israel could be persuaded to reach a "reasonable" agreement. Such an agreement might include provisions for an independent Palestine.
In a 1971 lecture flyer he says of himself that that he:
covered the six Day War as well as insurrections in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, in all of which the American involvement was deep and disastrous — and avoidable. To avert a Mideastern version of the Vietnam folly, he favors strictly reciprocal American commercial and cultural ties with both Arabs and Israelis — but the least political and military involvement possible.
He has expressed this viewpoint far and wide; even the National Review (July 15, 1969). I'd say Pete would be 100% in alignment with most of today's left on the Middle East, Israel, and Palestine, and with great deal more knowledge to back it up. He also would have noticed that the collapse of the USSR did not exactly turn the world into a peacable kingdom; quite the opposite: without the protection of the USSR, countries like Syria and Iraq were defenseless in the face of US interference and aggression.

Fado house 1989
Pete and Leila in a Fado house 1989
Both Uncle Pete and Danny (and for that matter, my dad) have been to Portugal to visit the family there, but until May 2003 I was never able to find out details. Danny told me of cousins in Portugal named Luzia Machado and her brothers, Lino and Zeca Santos, and their second cousin Raimundo Narciso [see Danny's travel diary]. Finally in 2017 I found a way to contact Raimundo, and now all the doors are open.

At Pete's apartment 1988
At Pete's apartment 1988
Uncle Pete and me 1988
Pete and me 1988
I last saw Uncle Pete at his apartment in Alexandria VA in 1988. He lived alone in a high-rise with a balcony looking out over the great void that is modern suburbia. He was as charming and lively as ever but he had a catheter with a urine bag, and had to keep taking his blood pressure every five minutes. As I recall, he had been treated for prostate cancer in Beirut and had been exposed to an overdose of radiation and had been suffering from it ever since. Anyway, he was super-enthusiastic because he had bought a big electronic piano and was learning to play it; I didn't realize it at the time, but he was taking up where had left off 10 years earlier, when he and Lina were taking piano lessons together in Beirut that were cut short by the civil war. As you can see in the second picture at right, his walls were festooned with photos of his family; it must have been bitter, living in exile. We stayed in touch by phone after that; he wanted to collaborate on a novel about computer hacking but then he stopped calling. He lived well, but he told me he never earned more the $20,000 a year in his whole life. I believe it was a matter of pride.

Uncle Pete lives on in Google, his books, and his progeny and those whose lives he touched. Many of his books and other works contain capsule biographies. Pete himself wrote the following one for the program of an Arab/American seminar:

Professor Daniel da Cruz has lived and worked in the Middle East for more than 30 years, as a diplomat, businessman, educator, journalist, lecturer and author. He spent six World War II years as a U.S. Marine volunteer in the three war theaters, ashore, afloat and aloft.

A magna cum laude graduate of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, he has been variously a census enumerator, magazine editor, editorial consultant for the Arabian-American Oil Company, judo master — he holds a Second Degree Black Belt of the Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo, taxi driver, farmer, public relations officer for Texaco, salesman, chief Middle East correspondent for a leading American news agency, publishers' representative, vice-president of a major New York advertising agency, slaughterhouse skinner, captain of a Texas security organization, American Embassy press attache in Baghdad, copper miner, member of the English faculty at the American University of Beirut, and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Miami University.

Professor da Cruz has written hundreds of articles on Middle Eastern politics, economy, military affairs and culture for the Washington Post and other major U.S. dailies, the Reader's Digest, the National Review, Time, and Newsweek.

He is the author of 17 published books, a number of them highly reviewed, among them the winner of a Special "Edgar" in the best-mystery-novel-of-the-year category. His latest non-fiction work [Boot] was a Main Selection of the Military Book Club.

There's a great deal I don't know about Uncle Pete's life but even from these scraps and fragments it's clear that he lived life to the fullest and had a range of experience few could equal. His nephew Rif (Rifa'at Haffar, son of Leila's sister Najwa) said, "He had a huge influence on me, this irreverent iconoclast who startled a family steeped in Ottoman and Imperial British propriety. And he kept on startling us for as long as he lived. I miss him and think of him often."

There's one more thing I'd like to mention about Uncle Pete: he was intensely loyal to all family members whatever their quirks or faults, notably including his brother (my father), who was bigoted, cruel, and brutal; his father, who was aloof and unfeeling; and even me when my politics took a turn directly opposite his. (He did, however, draw the line at stepmother Louise; Danny says he had "nothing good to say about her. For him, she was a quintessential horrible step-mother, and he complained about her driving him and Fran hard with housework and generally making their life unpleasant. One anecdote I remember is my dad feeling shame and anger when Louise wouldn't let him bring a Jewish friend of his into the house.") Of my Dad, Pete wrote in 1965:

He's never had the talent for putting things in the most gentle phrasing; with him it's better to concentrate on meaning than tone. Though certainly you doubt it, all he has to say is for your own good and in your own interest. You should know by now that every father seems a clod to his son — until he becomes a father in turn and realizes he's saying the same things he heard a generation before. Remember, he has his troubles too.
In my case, when I applied (unsuccessfully as it turned out) for early discharge from the Army as a conscienscious objector, Pete strongly disapproved, writing (toward the end of a 7-page letter):
You took your first steps from your mother to me. And in the East, my adopted home, the conception of family is somewhat different from that in the West, where it seems to be a collection of people who occasionally sup together and retire at the same time after the TV is turned off. As far as I'm concerned you are my nephew and you can call on me for anything I can provide whenever it is possible, whether you get out as c.o. or not.
In fact, I saw him a few months after that; we spent a week together and the c.o. topic didn't even come up. I don't have a copy of my reply to his letter but it probably said something along the lines of "World War II was a fight to save the world from German Fascism and Japanese imperialism, but Vietnam was a poor country that posed no threat to us or anyone else, and only wanted to be left alone; there was no justification for the United States killing Vietnamese people," a sentiment he came to agree with in later years.

Books by Daniel da Cruz II

Jock Sargent series...

Ape Swain series...

Republic of Texas series...

Other novels...


Aramco World Articles

(from his son, Danny...) And under a pseudonym (don't know why for this magazine, but this is one of a couple I know he used for manuscripts): BALLANTINE, JOHN And one written by my mother: SHAHEEN, LEILA

Most recent update: 7 September 2022 08:52:17