If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

March 1942


Do you think women are wrong to plan to have babies in these times?

Certainly not. If you have faith in the future of our civilization, you must be willing still to continue to do your share to populate the earth.


Since we are trying to conserve on cloth, wouldn't it be a good idea for all teachers to wear uniforms for the duration?

I cannot see any saving to be effected by having teachers wear uniforms. The saving of cloth will be effected by substitute materials and standardization of garments. Uniforms might easily use more cloth than some simple type of dress, and I cannot see why either the teachers or the children should be subjected to so much dull uniformity.


What assurance have people that defense bonds are safe? Under weak and unsound leadership the bonds may not be redeemable later.

You must have faith in your own ability and that of the rest of the people of the country to choose sound leadership. There is certainly nothing else which you can rely upon except the judgment of the people as a whole to make your Government efficient. Incidentally, if United States bonds are not good, neither is anything else in the world and you might as well reconcile yourself to it.


Do you think people of different religions should marry if parents object?

I think this is a very personal question and only the two people concerned can decide. Some married people adhere to different religions and still live happily together all their lives. Others find that a difference in religion becomes a bone of contention and one or the other member of the family usually gives in. I really think that parents who take it upon themselves to object so much that they attempt to keep the young people from marrying, are assuming a heavy burden of responsibility. Parents may not think a difference in religion is conducive to happiness, but religion is personal and only the individuals themselves can decide such a weighty matter.


How do you feel about Jewish people taking Gentile names?

This is only done, I imagine, when Christian people have made them feel that there is such a prejudice against them that they will find it easier to face the world without a foreign name. It makes me very sad to think that Christian people could be so unkind. If the name is changed purely to make it easier to pronounce or to spell, and not under any compulsion, then I have no feeling about it.


Why wasn't the United States more prepared for war?

Because after the last war we made up our minds that we were never going to have another war. We taught our children at home and on the college campuses that war never settled affairs of state to anyone's satisfaction. We thoroughly convinced our young people of this, and they in turn convinced a great part of the country that we would never again have a period of war. Therefore, as we watched the rest of the world go to war, we simply insisted that staying at peace was something which we decided for ourselves and which had no relationship to the decisions of the rest of the world. Taking this attitude and feeling so secure, we quite naturally sent to Congress people who held the same opinion, and we upheld them in these opinions and would listen to no others.


Would you please tell me if any of your sons in the service is in actual danger?

I have no idea. One son is an ensign on a destroyer which spent the summer going to the Northern Atlantic. He has lately been in other waters, but still far away from this country. Another son is a navigator with a bombing squadron, and up to a few days ago was based in a California camp. He spent the time from last April to September flying over new country in the North. I have no idea where he is at the present. A third son is training with his regiment in San Diego, and a fourth is a supply officer at the naval air base in San Diego.


What can a young unmarried woman do to help at this time?

If she has no ties which require her to stay at home, she could take training as a nurse. She can work in any of the various Red Cross activities, or she can take up any other kind of work for which her training has fitted her, either on a paid basis or a as a volunteer.


Upon what basis do you say "We know the Adam and Eve story is not true"?

On the basis of science. In one way, of course, the Adam and Eve story is true as an allegory, but when taught without interpretation, as many children learn it, it is not true.


Where did Falla get his name?

Fala—and it is spelled with one l—was named, as were one or two other Scotties which we have owned in the past, after a Scottish ancestor in my husband's family.


Do you think young engaged couples should marry or wait until the war is over, if the man is called to active duty?

This again is a personal question. It should be decided on its merits in each case, taking into consideration the circumstances surrounding that particular young man and young woman.


When you met Winston Churchill face to face during his recent visit to the White House, what was your first reaction?

My first reaction to the Prime Minister was that I was meeting a personality who seemed oddly familiar, and that this was quite evidently a man of parts, lovable as well as impressive.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, March 1942

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | SNAC ]

Ladies' Home Journal, volume 59, March 1942

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
The George Washington University
Old Main Building, Suite 406
1951 F Street, NW
Washington, DC