If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

April 1947


I have heard psychiatrists say that the Bible does not have adequate answers for man's problems today, and that it should be rewritten to eliminate confusion arising from outmoded theories. Do you think the Bible is out-of-date?

No, I do not think the Bible is out-of-date. It still seems to me a remarkably wise book and very satisfying to read both as to form and content.


At least two potential "third parties" have suddenly appeared. Do you think any third party—liberal or whatever you want to call it—has any chance to be a real force in the next national election?

I do not think any third party has appeared of late. There are, of course, in New York State the American Labor Party and the Liberal Party, but neither of them showed great independent force in the recent elections. The two groups, the Political Citizens Association and the Americans for Democratic Action, which are groups of progressive citizens, do not aspire to be political parties, but they do aspire to represent thinking voters who may look at certain questions in a different way and who may organize differently and have different programs on which each of them will work very hard. They can, however, work together when their objectives coincide if they decide to do so.


We have been wondering where you were married and what type of wedding you had. That is, were you dressed as a bride and did you have many attendants?

I was married in New York City on St. Patrick's Day, 1905, in a double house which was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Ludlow and their daughter, Mrs. Henry Parish, who was my mother's double first cousin and my godmother. I had the conventional wedding with a white satin wedding dress, old point lace veil which belonged to my grandmother, and I had bridesmaids and my husband had ushers. In fact, it was a completely old-fashioned wedding.


Do you think the United States Government will allow the recently enacted laws in Georgia, preventing Negroes from voting in the Democratic primaries, to stand? If so, how can you, as chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations, feel that you have the backing of our own supposedly democratic Government?

I have no idea what the rights of the United States Government are when they touch domestic affairs in a sovereign state. I imagine we will all know within a short time, as someone in Georgia is sure to appeal to the national Government. As chairman of the Human Rights Commission I represent the Government of the United States, and I take orders from the State Department and the President. I do not feel that Georgia represents the feeling of the majority of the people of the United States.


On a recent train trip I got into conversation with a group of young soldiers. They discussed the attitude of people in the small town near their camp. Some restaurants posted notices that serviceman's trade was unsolicited. Others that did serve them doubled prices. They said, "People don't want to be reminded of war. When they see us they have to think about it." None of the boys were over 20. All felt bewilderment mixed with sullen anger for a world that made them feel outcasts. One boy's father had been wounded in Iwo and will never walk again. This boy had been refused the privilege of buying a dinner two nights before. The OPA was established to prevent un-American practices. Could there be some organization now to investigate this sort of un-Americanism?

I am afraid you are wrong. OPA was established to keep prices down and to see that we get as much as we can in as fair a manner as possible for everyone concerned and to prevent inflation. I think the organization that you are really thinking about is the FEPC, which is supposed to see that no un-American discrimination takes place in employment. What you describe is the kind of thing that went on before the war. I think it goes on largely because certain people are afraid the civilian customers will not like to see soldiers about, and also some of the very young soldiers do not always behave as inconspicuously as they might. The only thing that would help in the type of special case you cite is for citizens to rise up and leave when they see such signs as you describe, and if they find a restaurant which will not serve a serviceman they should refuse to go there.


Don't you think that wars, for the purpose of grabbing territory, are caused mainly by overpopulation? Could women's organizations in various countries get together on a program of "No population race for military purposes," in your opinion?

No. I do not think women could get together and have any such foolish program succeed. Neither do I think that wars are caused mainly because of overpopulation. Take a look at Russia, for instance—she certainly is not crowded; and there is plenty of untenanted land right in our own country, and yet we are tempted to take land for protective purposes or for trade development.


What has become of Fala, President Roosevelt's dog?

Fala is lying not far from me as I write. I am afraid we all spoil him, but he is the pet of the household. He tries to be reconciled with me as his mistress, but I am sure Scotties are one-man dogs.


The Women's Society of Christian Service of the Methodist Church would like to know if underprivileged children are now being temporarily adopted as after World War I? If so, where is the need greatest, how much does it cost for one child per month, and who disburses the money sent?

There are different organizations in different places, but I think the best thing to do is to write to the Central Relief agency of the country from which you wish to adopt a child. Almost all countries seeking relief have headquarters in this country. Ask them how much it costs to adopt a child and also for any other information. I should think the need is greatest in Greece, Yugoslavia and Poland.

The United States Committee for the Care of European Children, 215 Fourth Avenue, New York City, also brings children here for adoption.


All those I know seem to have raised their children by the standards of some pediatrician's book. Did you? If so, which one?

In my day there was a book written by Doctor Holt. I think I was more concerned with the part which dealt with feeding, and I remember very little about anything else, but I certainly found that book valuable.


I am a fifteen-year-old and a sophomore in school. I wish to be a model, although I am not especially tall. I would like to plan for a two weeks' course. This costs $135 and I am willing to work for this. My parents are opposed to my modeling. We live in a small town in Illinois and I want to go to New York as soon as I am out of school. My mother is very much against it. Could you please advise me?

My dear young lady, I think your mother is much better fitted to advise you than I am, but I assure you that modeling is not all "beer and skittles" and you might not find it half as pleasant as you think you would.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, April 1947

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

Ladies' Home Journal, volume 64, April 1947

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
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