If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

August 1951


What is your favorite picture of your husband?

I have a good many pictures which I like very much, taken at different times during my husband's life, but I do not have one picture that I like above all others. As far as paintings go, I like the one done by Salisbury better than any of the others, and there is an etching done by Arthur Steward that I am very glad to have, which hangs over my desk in New York City.


Do you feel there's some truth in what the Russians say about our kind of government being corrupt and decadent?

No—because the Russians say that to prove how simon-pure theirs is, and, of course, theirs is just as corrupt and decadent as they say ours is. Ours may be corrupt, but it is not decadent, or we would not have the investigations we are now having with the violent reactions of people to corruption they never before realized existed. When you have good healthy reactions against corruption, you are pretty sure to do something to correct it, and that is not a sign of decadence.


Whom do you fear most in the world today?

I do not think I fear anyone.


What shall I tell my children when the President of the United States acts like a child on a nationwide network of radio and TV?

I am sorry, but I am totally unable to answer your question, as I have never seen the President of the United States act like a child on a nationwide network of radio or television. If anything the President did offended you, I should think you would have turned it off so as not to have your children see something which you feel would cause them to lose respect for the President and his office.

All of us who are citizens of the United States have a respect and affection for the President of the whole nation. I hope also we have a realization of the strain under which he lives at the present time, and a realization that he is a human being and must occasionally have more than he can bear.

My husband always leaves birthdays and holidays up to me. I buy all the gifts for the children and sometimes even write his name on the cards. I know this happens in many families, but I don't think it's a good thing. How did you and your husband manage the gift problem?

Your problem sounds very familiar. I do not think it is a good thing for you to write the cards. I used to make my husband write his own cards, even though he had such a busy life. I frequently did his buying for him. Where the children were concerned, he wrote his own cards and messages because we knew it would never mean as much to them unless their father took some real interest in their gifts.


Do any of your children or grandchildren belong to sororities or fraternities? How do you feel about sororities?

I do not know whether any of my children or grandchildren belong to sororities or fraternities. At Harvard my boys belonged to various societies and clubs. I do not know much about sororities because I never went to school in the United States after I was fifteen, I never went to college, and my daughter was at Cornell only for a brief winter agricultural course.

I think fraternities and sororities are bound to bring a certain amount of unhappiness to young people, but if they do not breed discrimination and are just an effort to bring together young people of mutual interests regardless of race or religion, I do not know that they would be harmful.

On the other hand, I heard of a high-school sorority in which membership was limited to girls whose fathers earned $15,000 a year or over and a rather extravagant wardrobe was a prerequisite. This, to me, seems outrageous.


Was your husband ever in great pain during his illness? What could you do to help him when this was the case?

Yes, my husband was in very great pain in the early months of his illness. There was nothing that could be done to help him except such things as the doctor ordered. The only other possibility was to try to provide him with as much entertainment as possible. I tried to get interesting books and have interesting people come to see him.

< Previous Column 1951 Next Column >

About this document

If You Ask Me, August 1951

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

McCall's, volume 78, August 1951

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
Washington, DC 20052