If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

July 1950


1. How many vacations is a President expected to take? It seems to me Truman goes on vacations four or five times a year.

I do not think there is any rule about Presidents’ vacations. However, a President of the United States does not take a vacation in the same sense that you or I would. He always has his responsibilities with him. A mail pouch comes daily, he is available by telephone at all times—he has questions to decide, many papers to sign, and he puts in hours of work every day. It simply means in the case of President Truman when he goes to Key West, Florida, that he has a little more chance for sun and out-of-door exercise.

Your question indicates that you have no idea of the strain and the amount of work that is required of a President of the United States. I would suggest you write one of the President’s secretaries in Washington and ask him to give you the usual daily round of a President in Washington or on so-called vacations.


2. Now that you have seen what happened to Mr. Robert Vogeler, have you revised your opinion of Cardinal Mindszenty?

I never had any opinion of Cardinal Mindszenty, so I could not very well revise it. I have stated a number of times that I dislike the type of trial conducted in the communist-controlled countries and above everything else I dislike trials which have anything to do with the question of a person’s religion. I did add, however, that the case of Cardinal Mindszenty in Hungary was slightly complicated by the fact that the Roman Catholic Church had been one of the largest land owners, if not the largest, in Hungary. This does not affect the Cardinal as a person, but anyone who knows European history knows that this has led to trouble in European countries before. Such a situation is not a religious but a secular one.

I do not think anyone has any faith in the justice of trials in communist-controlled countries, whether they are trials of members of any religion (lately some of the Mormons and Baptists have been in trouble) or whether they are trials of business people accused of political activity, as in the case of Mr. Vogeler. Justice as we know it in the United States is simply not practiced in these communist-controlled countries, and we cannot expect it.


3. Do you agree that wives and children of GIs are slighted on GI disability pensions in cases where the GIs have divorced their wives to marry European girls?

As I understand it, the divorced wife of a disabled veteran is entitled to a proportionate share of a disabled veteran’s pension if he does not otherwise provide. It varies with the amount of the pension, the number of children and so on. I should think this a fair division, but of course each case has to be considered as an individual one, with all of the circumstances involved taken into consideration, and I am not in a position to judge your individual situation.


4. Did you ever say in any of your public utterances that you believed in racial intermarriage?

I have no recollection of what I said on this subject, but it is quite obvious that racial intermarriage has been going on among many races on the face of the earth for many, many years, so my opinion for or against it would be completely useless.


5. How do you keep from worrying? You must have many more worries than most of us, yet worry never seems to get you down.

Everyone living, of course, has worries; and if they have many people whom they care about, naturally they are concerned about them and their worries. But I learned many years ago that worry which did not lead to being able to do something was useless. The best way to alleviate worry is to do all you can.

Mary Margaret McBride asks “How do you get time to get your dresses fitted and your shoes fixed and your hair washed and all the other things most career women never get time to do?”

It is extremely difficult when I am out at Lake Success to find time to do those things. It means such a long drive to and fro; and during the General Assembly, when we usually have a delegation meeting before we go out to Lake Success, I leave home at 8:45 A.M. and get back at 7:00 P.M. if we meet all day.

I try to get clothing for a whole season before the General Assembly begins. But to find time to have my hair washed and my nails done, go to the dentist or doctor, is my real problem. I have to have my hair washed every week or ten days at least, so I just pray for an occasional half-day when the Assembly does not meet. Then I dash to have my hair done and visit any people I try to see regularly. I usually manage to keep dentist or doctor appointments at 9:00 A.M., at least during the spring sessions when I do not have to leave until 10:00 A.M. In the autumn this is impossible.

One really cannot afford to be ill. There is no time. So far, I have never really had to give up because of illness. I have been able to make appointments with people who felt they had to see me early in the morning, in the evening or at dinner. Sometimes people come out to Lake Success to see me at lunchtime.

My real difficulty when I am working in the United Nations is that I have at all times a certain amount of my own work to do—a daily column, this page in McCall’s once a month and mail which takes me from two to three hours a day. All of this has to be done at night.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, July 1950

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

McCall's, volume 77, July 1950

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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