If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

November 1942

 

Do you believe in the power of prayer?

Certainly, but the prayer must be an honest act of faith, and must be devoid of personal selfishness.

 

Why are there no laws which entitle a conscientious, respectable, hard-working wife and mother to control a certain percentage of her husband's income? Why should she have to resort to divorce or separation for the law to recognize her rights as an individual?

As far as I know, there are laws which give a wife control of any real estate owned by her husband. He cannot sell it without her consent. She may keep, without question, her own earnings; but it has always been considered that all a man earns is used to support his family as a whole. I doubt if it has ever been considered necessary to pass any law giving the wife control of any specific percentage of her husband's income. I think it is always wise for a man not only to give his wife a specified amount of his income for household use, but, if he earns enough to do so, to make that allowance generous enough so that she may have something left over which she can consider her own.

 

Do you ever give to beggars on the street? If so, how do you justify it?

Yes, I do occasionally give to beggars on the street. When I lived in my own home I made it a point to take people home to feed them rather than to give them money, and then to help them in any way possible to get a job if that was what they needed. Now that is impossible. However, when I see someone who looks fairly desperate, I would rather give money, on the chance of sometimes giving unwisely, than to withhold it from some one person who might need a helping hand and who deserves it.

 

Do you and your husband invest 10 per cent of your earnings and income in War Bonds?

I cannot speak for my husband, as we have no time at present for consultation on things of this kind. As far as I am concerned, I have tried consistently to do this ever since the war started.

 

I have been married over a year, am not quite eighteen and expect a baby in December, but my husband is classified 1A and his draft board says he must go the first of November. How am I going to pay doctor bills and support myself?

I gather from your question that you and your husband have not laid anything by to tide you over until the Government payments begin or you can return to work. You will probably have to go to a free ward in a hospital if you live in a city or state where free medical care of that kind is available. I think if you appeal to the Army Emergency Relief in your locality, you will get help. I hope you or your husband has some family to help you through these difficult days, but you will find many others meeting the same problems with courage and resourcefulness.

 

Do you think a girl with a fairly well-paying job, whose parents need help, should stop going to school? I am in my second year of high school.

Not unless it is absolutely necessary; because while the girl might give her parents temporary help as long as the job lasts, she would cut off her chance of earning more money in the future, and of preparing herself not only for a better-paying job but for more enjoyment along cultural lines which would be made possible by more education.

 

I hear people say, "Why buy bonds? Dollars won't be worth anything after the war." What do you think?

If bonds are worthless after the war, then any money you might hoard would be worthless after the war, and anything you might buy would be worthless because you would not be able to sell it, and you cannot eat the things in the future which you buy at present. By buying bonds you are preserving the future value of your dollars, and therefore it is a very sensible thing for all of us to do.

 

What do you think of drafting boys of eighteen and nineteen before they've even had a chance to vote?

A good many boys who are under eighteen are already enlisting, but I do not think that being able to vote or not being able to vote has much to do with their going into the service of their country. If it becomes necessary to draft boys of eighteen or nineteen, it will have to be done; but I hope it will be done by boards that take their physical and mental development into consideration.

 

Do you think children should be denied toys as their contribution to the war effort?

I hardly think that small children who enjoy toys have much knowledge about what the war means, and therefore to deny them toys seems to me rather foolish. I think we older people should deny ourselves the pleasure of buying expensive toys. Children frequently enjoy inexpensive toys far more than they do the type of toy their elders enjoy buying for them.

 

Why doesn't the Government requisition at a fair price all the so-called ornamental iron fences, grilles, bronze name plates, knockers, etc., that people could get along without? And why not requisition spare and extra hoarded tires before it's too late?

The Government probably will requisition ornamental metalwork when the machinery is available, but in the meantime it is probably leaving it to the communities to collect such things and turn them in. The communities seem to be doing a pretty good job.

Requisitioning of tires will probably happen as soon as they are really needed; and there is nothing to prevent anyone from volunteering his spare tires immediately.

 

I am a boy fifteen years of age, but when I am sixteen do you personally think it would be all right for me to have a date once in a while in our family car? I would like to have a few dates in the car before its tires are useless.

Before we were in the war, I should have said that at sixteen, if your family could trust you to drive a car, you were entitled to have the use of it now and then. At present I do not think so, for cars should not be used except when absolutely necessary, and young people, I feel sure, can find as much pleasure in each other's company walking together or sitting together as using a car unnecessarily.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, November 1942

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

Ladies' Home Journal, volume 59, November 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
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1951 F Street, NW
Washington, DC