If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

November 1951


I have heard recently that Jews are discriminated against in the Soviet Union. Would you please tell me what you know about this?

I know very little about this, because no one has much opportunity to move around in the Soviet Union, but it is commonly said that the pattern in the Soviet Union is discriminatory toward Jews.


When do you start your Christmas shopping, and how do you manage to buy gifts for everyone in your large family? I have only two children and a husband to shop for, but Christmas is always a nightmare to me.

I love Christmas, and I prepare for it all the year round. I keep a closet in which I put everything which I pick up during the year which I think I may use as gifts at Christmastime. I have a very long list, and I could not manage unless I planned it well ahead. For instance, I keep a book with every gift that has gone out the year before, and I go over that in August and plan for the coming Christmas. I cannot imagine finding it a nightmare, and I can only feel that perhaps you leave your preparations until too late and then it becomes a burden.


Did you let your children read the funnypapers when they were young?

I never found it a question of keeping my children from reading or allowing them to read the funnypapers. They just naturally do it. There were not so many comics when my children were young, but I feel quite sure I would have let them read them if there had been more.


Would you be in favor of an I.Q. test and a psychiatric examination of all people who run for public office?

I think it would be wonderful if everyone could take an I.Q. test and have a psychiatric examination, and not just the people are who are going to run for public office. It would help, I think, in whatever a person was going to do in life. It certainly would be a good thing to know how you came out in these tests, because you would know what you had to guard against and what you had to work on to improve yourself.


A short time ago my husband died very suddenly. I feel a great need for faith. But when I pray it seems to me I am just mouthing words. I must find strength. Can you tell me where you found it when your husband died?

I think if you keep on praying you will find that strength will finally come. Pray for strength to meet whatever situation you must meet in life, and the act of faith often produces remarkable results.


When did you first start using your middle name as a first name, and why?

My mother's name was Anna, and therefore that was the first name given to me, but she did not want to have another “Anna” in the house, so from the time I was a baby I was called Eleanor. When it came to my daughter's turn to be named she was named after me, but we called her Anna. When her daughter came along she was also named Anna Eleanor after her mother and me, and she was called Eleanor!


Did you use a book on child psychology for bringing up your children? Which one?

I had Dr. Holt's baby book, which was considered the best at the time, and I followed that very carefully in the physical care; but in the days when my children were babies there was much less knowledge of psychiatry and psychology, and I fear they suffered from lack of knowledge on the part of their parents in this important side of a child's upbringing.


Do you feel you know a great deal about someone from the way he shakes hands? What kind of handshake makes the best impression on you, and what the worst?

Yes, I think a handshake can tell a great deal. A firm handclasp is warm and reassuring. Clammy, limp handshakes always make me think of the description of Uriah Heep, and I am never drawn to the person who greets me that way.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, November 1951

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

McCall's, volume 79, November 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
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