If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

May 1944


Can a soldier stop his wife's allotment if she starts going around with another man?

The soldier may at any time discontinue a voluntary allotment, but cannot, through any action he takes, discontinue a family allowance for dependency.


What are the major differences between the Democratic and the Republican parties?

I suppose the only way of gauging what the differences in theory may be is to compare their party platforms. It will appear that the main difference is that the Republican Party usually adopts the Democratic platform an election or even two elections after the Democratic Party has first proposed it. The words may be different, but the measures proposed, when they have been tried out by the Democratic Party and accepted by the people, usually appear in the Republican platform.

In actual practice as apart from theory, I must say that except for a very small section of its membership, the Democratic Party has been in the past more interested in measures which would be a help to the average citizen. The Democratic Party has been more ready to try new things, to meet new situations and has been more alert to the dangers as they loomed on the horizon in international situations. This can only be judged by the actual record of the past eleven years the Democratic Party has been in power. Legislation passed has often been put through against the almost unanimous opposition of the Republican Party.

To mention some of the accomplishments; a sound banking system, the Home Owners' Loan Corporation, the Farm Credit Administration, the Rural Electrification Administration, flood control, drought control, the soil-conservation program, the farm-mortgage acts, farm co-operatives, crop insurance, public-works projects, the Civilian Conservation Corps, old age and retirement insurance, unemployment insurance, aid and vocational training to the crippled and blind, Federal emergency relief, slum clearance, the Federal Housing Administration, defense housing, abolishing of child labor, minimum wage and maximum hours, National Labor Relations Board, the Securities Exchange Commission, utilities monopolies have been broken, reciprocal trade agreements, the Good Neighbor Policy, compensation and benefits to dependents of servicemen. The above list is taken from a speech in the Senate by Senator Barkley.


Why are Japanese prisoners in U.S. camps given more butter and other rationed foods than a free civilian U.S. citizen can buy?

The Army abides by the Geneva Convention, which provides that prisoners of war receive the same rations as the soldiers of the captor power. Japanese prisoners do not necessarily receive more rationed food than civilians.


Why is a serviceman allowed a fifteen-day furlough a year but three quarters of them don't get it?

A soldier may receive thirty days' furlough time a year, but no more than fifteen days at any one period. Granting of a furlough is a privilege granted the soldier which is granted provided the training schedule of the unit and the individual state of training permits it.

Furloughs are granted upon the decision of the commanding officer, who knows whether a furlough will disrupt training of either the unit or the individual. The War Department does not believe that the statement that three quarters of the men do not get their furloughs is correct.


What do you think is the reason the women of this country have failed to fill the recruiting quotas set for the Wac, Waves and Women Marines?

I do not know what the reasons are. I have asked many people and they give many answers.

One reason which seems to me fairly plausible is that, in many cases, the departure of the young men has left certain family responsibilities on the girls. This means that they must take jobs which they can do without leaving home and which bring them in as much of an income as the family needs.

Secondly, the American man, I am told, is partly responsible because he does not encourage his wife or sister or sweetheart to go into the armed services. If he comes home he wants to be sure that they will be there. In Great Britain they have one advantage over us, which is geographical. If the girls do not go overseas, and I think they have to volunteer for that service, they are given liberty as soon as their husbands come home and they can join them. England is a small country and they can be anywhere within twelve hours.

If we could establish different categories, or people could volunteer for different services in different parts of the country, or certain considerations could be given women whereby they could be home if their men came back on leave, and if their menfolk really urged them to go into the Services, I think that would go far toward increasing enlistments. In addition, I think many may feel that the war is not going to last long enough to make it worth while to take this training when they may only be needed for a very short time thereafter.


Where are Charles A. Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh?

I am sorry to say that I do not know, but I am sure if you were to write to the Ford Company in Detroit, where Mr. Lindbergh was for a time employed, they would be able to tell you.


Do you not think it would be a fine gesture for your husband to divide his enormous birthday gift of dimes with Elizabeth Kenny?

Of course, my husband has nothing to say about what is done with any money collected on his birthday for infantile paralysis. It all goes to the National Foundation and they allocate it to different purposes connected with the control and cure of the disease. In each locality half of the money raised is kept, and half is sent to the National Foundation. If the foundation, as it works with Miss Kenny, is convinced that she should have support in her work, they will undoubtedly consider any application she makes.


Why are diapers being sent to Africa for Arabs to use on their heads when American babies need them?

I do not think that diapers are being sent to Africa. White cotton cloth which may perhaps once have gone into the manufacture of diapers may, at the present time, be shipped to Africa because, when we went in there, we found there was a great shortage of white cotton material.

The Arabs wear white cotton cloth garments and they bury their dead in white cotton cloth garments, and to them this was a very serious shortage. White cotton cloth became as good a weapon of war as we could have, and we used it as such.


Do you ever get tired of the limelight in which you live and wish you were just a private citizen?

Very often. I never have liked public life. Of course, I am a private citizen when I am not actually doing things as the wife of the President or as the wife of the Commander in Chief, where the armed forces are concerned.


Is it true that enlisted men are no longer released from the Army when they reach the age of thirty-eight?

This is true, unless he filed his application for discharge prior to July 1, 1943, and overseas prior to August 1, 1943.


Do you think it wrong to exchange ration points with others in your family or with close friends?

It is not a question of right or wrong. It is a question of complying with the law. Under the law, as I understand it, no one but you yourself can use your ration points. When you buy for your household you use the points belonging to the members of your household. If you go to stay with somebody else, you take your points with you and while you are there you can contribute your points to that household because you are eating food in that place.


Who writes the President's speeches?

The President writes his own speeches, but he, of course, calls on all the experts to furnish him with facts and to go over them with him. Very often the first draft will have to be cut down or pertinent facts or arguments will have to be verified. These things other people may do.


Why can't wives of servicemen stationed in Alaska go up there to live and work?

It is a standing War Department policy that the wives of military personnel are not permitted in overseas theaters where their husbands are stationed, and Alaska is subject to the same ruling.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, May 1944

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

Ladies' Home Journal, volume 61, May 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
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