If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

February 1952


You said in McCall's recently that you didn't want the movies to make a picture of your husband's life. Is it true that you've changed your mind, and why have you?

It is true I have been averse to having a picture made as long as my husband's actual looks and personality were still fresh in people's minds. Mr. Stanley Kramer, however, recently pointed out to me that if no one were allowed to do research while the people who knew my husband were still alive it would be difficult to produce a picture which would give the true sense of a living person. Mr. Kramer also pointed out that the research and preparation for such a picture as he wished to make would take a few years. I saw his point and have agreed to let him go ahead.


Do you think it's possible to be a good Christian without being a regular churchgoer?

Of course it is possible to be a good Christian without being a regular churchgoer. Nevertheless, going to church has two considerations in its favor. One is the personal satisfaction and benefit derived from the services; the other is the value of the example in the community which shows that a citizen is a Christian. There is value in showing publicly where one's allegiance lies.


What people besides President Roosevelt's parents and yourself had the most important personal influence on his life?

I think Louis Howe had a great influence on my husband's life, and also his two uncles, Mr. Warren Delano and Mr. Frederic Delano—and my uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, made a deep impression on him as a young man, as he did on so many other young men of that generation.


Did you or your husband ever help your children with their homework?

Yes, both of us did. My husband was better at mathematics than I was, so he dealt with all the problems of that kind, but it seems to me that I have listened to endless words being spelled, and answered questions on almost all subjects.


What is your definition of “McCarthyism”?

It is the habit of accusing people without proof and of doing it through clever falsification. If you will look up the documented presentation by Senator Benton in support of his resolution to oust McCarthy from the Senate you will see how, by taking portions of something that has been said from one place and tacking it on to something from somewhere else, a completely false impression is created. In other words, “the unproved smear based on falsification” is my definition of McCarthyism.


What risks do you think I'd be taking to live in Germany next year as the wife of an Air Force officer?

I do not think you would be taking any more risk by going to Germany than you would anywhere else in the world. If the U.S.S.R. decides to go to war you would be nearer the marching troops, but another war would be an air war in great part at least, in which case wherever you are you will be affected. In Germany you would be near your husband, and you would have more information perhaps than people in other parts of the world. Personally, I would feel entirely secure, or as secure as anyone else is at present. If war comes none of us is secure.


Did your husband ever describe his personal impressions of Stalin? I seem to have heard that they got on very well, exchanged jokes, etc.

Yes. When my husband came home he always talked over his trip. When he came home from his first meeting with Mr. Stalin in Tehran, he told us he sensed a great suspicion on the part of the Marshal but formal relations were always polite. He felt no warmth of understanding or of normal intercourse. My husband determined to bend every effort to breaking these suspicions down, and decided that the way to do it was to live up to every promise made by both the United States and Great Britain, which both of us were able to do before the Yalta meeting.

At Yalta my husband felt the atmosphere had somewhat cleared, and he did say he was able to get a smile from Stalin.


I am sick and tired of hearing seven- and eight-year-olds expressing half-baked opinions on the air. Don't you agree with me that children should not be seen or heard on so many radio and television programs?

I am sorry to say that I only turn on the radio or television when there is something I want to see or hear, so I am not impressed by what seems to trouble you. The few times that I have listened to the Quiz Kids I have enjoyed their extraordinary knowledge and range of facts. Perhaps the answer to your question is to listen only to something you want to hear.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, February 1952

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

McCall's, volume 79, February 1952

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
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