If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

March 1952


What is your answer to people who accuse you of being pro-Communist?

A very simple one. I have never been a Communist nor in favor of Communism at home or abroad, but I have never been afraid to come in contact with Communists, and I think it would be a poor democrat who could not stand up and meet the Communists and their theories.


I have heard over and over again that your husband had already had a cerebral hemorrhage and was a very sick man before he accepted the nomination for a fourth term. Will you tell me the truth about this?

As far as I know that is utterly false. I have asked the doctor who watched him carefully, and from my own observation I cannot see how it would have been possible for my husband to have had anything of this kind without someone noticing it. He had a thorough examination before he ran for a fourth term, and the doctors said that if he would follow certain rules there was no indication that he could not stand the strain of another term in office.


Has the actress been chosen to play your part in the movie about your husband's life? Whom would you like to see play it?

No one has been chosen for my part in the film, and I do not in the least care who plays it.


My husband says that he wants to be cremated when he dies. I cannot bear the thought. It seems so unnatural. Please tell me how you feel on the subject.

I cannot see why it seems unnatural, unless it is forbidden by one's religion. All of us eventually turn to dust and ashes, whether we are buried or cremated and have our ashes put wherever we specify. It looks to me as though it will become more and more difficult to find land for the cemeteries that are going to be needed by our increasing populations. In India people are burned on a funeral pyre, and I think cremation may well become a practice everywhere in the world. Personally I would feel it is quite a natural feeling on the part of your husband.


My grandson tells me that Red Cross girls overseas were very snobbish to the enlisted men. Have you ever heard this? I don't know whether to contribute to the Red Cross now or not.

Yes, occasionally I have heard rumors of this kind, as I have heard many other rumors. But I think in balance there were far more Red Cross workers who did a good job and were never snobbish than there were girls who did a poor job. It seems to me unfortunate to withdraw your support from an organization because of a rumor here and there. The Red Cross has done, and is doing, a tremendous job which touches the world. Some people in the organization may fall down, since after all they are human beings. I think you would be doing an injustice to a number of people who worked hard and well to withdraw your support from the Red Cross.


Our youngest boy objects strongly to wearing hand-me-down suits from his older brothers. I think he would feel a little better about it if I could tell him that the sons of the President of the United States also wore hand-me-downs. Is this true?

Of course it is true in any large family where there are several boys. We passed on clothes from the older children to the younger ones as they were outgrown before they were worn out. Tell your boy it is too bad to be born after the others but that is one of the things that many children have to endure.


I always see you photographed with dogs, and I wondered whether you liked cats or had ever owned one.

I never owned a cat, and though I do not dislike them I have no particular feeling for them either. Dogs I am accustomed to, and I have always had them around me. I feel they are a tremendous asset to country and family life.


I have terrible stage fright. It keeps me from saying things I want to say at our P.T.A. meetings. Will you tell me how you've handled your own stage fright, if you ever have any?

Certainly I have stage fright. The only way to get over it is to care enough about what you want to say so that you forget yourself in your interest in the subject you want to bring up. Each time you conquer this fear it will be a help for the next occasion.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, March 1952

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

McCall's, volume 79, March 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
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