And Then We Were Three: Diana Nyad’s Very Bad Year

A number of “facts” remain constant throughout Nyad’s Holocaust stories. For instance, Nyad always identifies the woman as a survivor from her tattoo; the woman’s father always refuses to leave the family home, whereupon “the Gestapos” always kill him; the woman is always three when the Nazis deport her, three when she arrives at Dachau, and three when those numbers are “etched”—always “etched”—into her skin.

Diana Sneed turned three on August 22, 1952. In the year that followed, the world she knew crumbled while a new one coalesced around the unstable gravity of con artist Aristotle Z. Nyad. By the time Aris exits a decade later, he has bestowed upon his step-daughter his surname and his sociopathy, erasing “Diana Sneed” and etching “Diana Nyad” in her place.

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  • 22 Aug 1952: Diana Sneed of Palm Beach, Florida, turns three. Her parents are Lucy Sneed (formerly Lucy Winslow Curtis) and William (Bill) Lent Sneed, Jr.
  • 31 Aug 1952: Birth of Diana’s brother William Lent Sneed III. Diana now must share the attention of a mother whom she (i.e. Diana) has said was not as attentive as she would have liked:

I wanted her to come in and cuddle with me, read to me. But she stood her distance… (Find a Way, p. 35).

To make matters worse…

  • Diana’s father abandons the family or gets kicked out shortly after his son’s birth.[1] See 3 July below.
  • by Mar 1953: Aris Nyad insinuates himself into the Palm Beach social circuit. He has just finished running some sort of international scam involving his third wife, the fashion model Nellie Nyad. Now he’s on the prowl for a new patron.
  • Sometime between March and October, Aris meets Lucy, his dream-date: demure, divorced (or soon to be), and rich. How to create a semi-permanent bond? Aris gets Lucy pregnant.
  • 22 Aug 1953: Diana Sneed turns four.

…may think their recent marriage in Arizona was a spur-of-the-moment affair . . . but not so, says the bridegroom on the couple’s return . . . it was planned ages ago, but was kept top secret . . . It was no elopement to Phoenix, they went there because they had special friends there and wanted to marry at that home. (13 Dec 1953)

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  1. From Find a Way (p. 39):

He sees his son, my brother, Bill, and has a worse reaction to his brown eyes than he did to mine. “A son with brown eyes? No, that’s too much.”

…Mom gave him thirty minutes to pack and made him promise he would never again contact us. Her first business was to change our names legally and we never knew he existed until into adulthood, when it no longer mattered.”

It’s impossible to know what’s true and what’s not in the above—other than that Lucy Sneed did not change any names legally until she married Aris.     RETURN

. . .

Update, 16 May 2022: Rewrote section about the birth of Diana’s sister Eliza.


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