If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

April 1944


Is it true you went to Australia in place of Wendell Willkie?

No. I think this is a pleasant bit of fiction. Mr. Willkie's trip and mine would not have conflicted. I am sure if he wanted to go anywhere, his trip would be considered for its value, and mine could not have been undertaken with the same objectives or cover the same fields of interest, in all probability.


Why is sugar still rationed?

We now have three-fourths as much sugar as we had in 1941. However, we need half as much again as we now have in order to meet demands. Military use of sugar is up nearly half as much again for 1944 as compared with 1943, for our own soldiers and those of our Allies.

Industrial use of sugar is higher. People do not realize how important sugar is for making a tremendous variety of products: candy, soft drinks, fountain sirups, medicines, bakery products, canning of fruits and vegetables, and so on. People have more money to spend and the demand is greatly increased. An extremely good job is being done in bringing in sugar, but the Philippines used to supply a large part of the total amount used and they have been cut off.


Are you supporting several child refugees?

I subscribe every month to the support in Great Britain of two refugee children. I do this through the Foster Parents Plan for War Children, Inc. I felt, however, that if I contributed to the care of children abroad I wanted, at the same time, to help some unfortunate child in my own country, and so I pay the board of one needy American child. I find that it costs almost as much to do that here for one child as it does to help three children in Great Britain!


Do you think women should wear medals given their husbands or sweethearts?

I understand that regulations of the War Department do not permit the wearing of decorations by the next of kin. Decorations are authorized to be worn only by the person to whom they are awarded. They can be exhibited in any way, but cannot be worn.

I personally would rather keep medals where I could see them, since I have no great liking for going around with decorations which were not given me for some personal achievement.


Shouldn't teachers, in a period of inflation, be subsidized in order to keep up the standard of their important profession?

I think that teachers' salaries in this country should be the constant concern of every community. They should be well enough paid to cover not only their living expenses, but the expense of doing things to continue their development during holiday periods. Communities should watch the circumstances under which their teachers are working and see that these standards are maintained at all times.


Do you think it right to discriminate against a Japanese-born American?

Certainly not, if their loyalty to the United States has been proved.


Would you vote for a Negro for President, or do you think opportunities for Negroes should be limited?

Any citizen of the United States with proper qualifications should be eligible for any public office. The person for whom one casts one's vote for any office should not be considered because of race or creed, but on his or her qualifications for the job, and his or her value as a leader of the people of the country as a whole. No one should be considered who could not command the support of a majority of the people of the country, because as a leader he could accomplish nothing constructive.


A recent picture showed some "Yank" soldiers sitting on the Italian throne. As a Canadian I would like to ask, "Haven't Yanks any respect for anything?"

Yes. I feel sure that the Yanks have respect for a great many things. We happen not to feel about royalty as do the citizens of nations who have kings and queens of their own whom they admire and love. Such things as a throne in Italy would mean little to our soldiers. We live in a democracy and consider that any man must stand on his own reputation. He earns respect by his own achievements. I understand, therefore, how a group of young Yank soldiers might not be at all overawed by the Italian throne.


What is your opinion of girls smoking and drinking at public bars with men?

If girls behave themselves and men behave themselves I see no reason why they should not go to any place which is decent. Places that are not decent should be closed and neither men nor women should go to them.


How did Falla get his name?

Fala (and it is Fala, and not Falla) was named after an old Scotch ancestor of the President, called "Fala of Murray Hill."


Do you think that antiracial outbursts should be played up or down in the press?

I do not think anything which is news should be played up or played down. I think facts should be given, but biased stories should never be written.


What do you think of compulsory military training for boys after the war? Should girls give a year's service to their country too? If so, in what way?

I do not approve of a year's training on the basis of its being purely compulsory military training. I do believe that it would be very valuable if both girls and boys have a year of compulsory training or service in the future. During this time the boys would receive the necessary military training. The girls would also receive some type of training which would make them useful in case of war, but all of them should give a larger part of their time to work of some constructive value to the communities throughout the country. They should learn the meaning of citizenship in a democracy and should feel that they are obtaining some valuable experience in citizenship, and contributing to the well-being of the nation during this period of service.

Specifically, girls might gain more knowledge of nutrition, of health, of nursing care and the care and training of children, both physically and psychologically, which would be of great value when they have their own homes. For all young people the training and service during this year should be adapted to their specific abilities and aptitudes, so that they would not feel that it was a year wasted, but a year in which their citizenship value was developed and they began their contribution to the development of the country and the establishment of their own lives.


Why doesn't the Government draft girls between eighteen and twenty-one if the WAC, WAVES, SPARS and Marines really need women?

The National Service Act would draft anyone who was really needed, and there would be no need for any other specific legislation.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, April 1944

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

Ladies' Home Journal, volume 61, April 1944

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
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