If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

July 1952


As a good Democrat, why don't you take a more active part in pre-election politics? Are you planning to attend the Democratic Convention in July?

I have not been to a convention of either political party in many years, and I do not plan to attend one. I am working almost exclusively now on international questions, and I do not think it would be either wise or helpful for me to take an active part in the Democratic party. I am a Democrat, but for the time being it seems to me that I can be more useful in the international field.


If it is not too impertinent I'd like to know whether you have made a will and to whom you are leaving your farm at Hyde Park?

I have made a will, but I do not own the farm at Hyde Park. My son Elliott owns all the land there, and at my death my house and ground immediately adjoining revert to him.


Don't you think we should have a law protecting the victims of sex crimes from the publicity they receive when they report these crimes to the police?

I think there should be a law to protect anyone who does not wish to be given publicity.


Your daughter Anna wrote a column saying that celebrities often have a harder time than other people finding real friends. Do you think this is true? Do you have a test of a real friend?

I think it is quite often true. I don't think I have any test of a real friend. One knows if people are fond of one or not, and one soon finds out and feels it and knows it by their actions in time of trouble. Time will always show up whether a person is a real friend or only a sham one.


I am 60 and about to have my first operation. I know it's foolish to be frightened, but I can't help being. Have you ever had a major operation?

Yes, I had one once, and as I lay on the operating table I heard the doctor ask if I was gone, because my pulse was so low. But I came back quickly, and I have never again had anything like that happen, though I have had several minor operations since.


You certainly must receive a lot of gifts that are "white elephants." What do you do with them?

I receive rather few gifts that are "white elephants." Most of my friends know that I like to be given things that can be used—things to eat, things to use in the house, garden flowers. Some of them even know that I like them to give in my name to an organization or to people that are in need. Those are often among my nicest gifts. It is rare that I receive anything I cannot use, and when it does happen it is because I have a duplicate. In that case I stow it away in my Christmas closet and give it to someone who can use it during the year or at the following Christmas.


Did you encourage your husband to run for a fourth term as President of the United States?

I never encouraged my husband to run for anything. I felt that a man had to make those decisions for himself. The role of the wife when the decision is made is to help carry it out. I hope that from my earliest years I did this loyally and cooperatively.


A preacher here in South Carolina told us you once said the Bible was just a bunch of fairy tales. I don't believe you said this, Mrs. Roosevelt, but would you mind telling me what you do think the Bible is?

I do not remember ever saying that the Bible was just a bunch of fairy tales. In fact, I know I never said it. I think I may have said that there are parts of the Old Testament which as a child I was taught to take literally and now I assess some of these as having other than literal meanings. I think the Bible is one of the most valuable and beautiful books that was ever written, and I think the more we study it the more we understand and find new meanings in it. The New Testament, especially, seems to me inspired and easier for us to understand than the Old Testament. However, I find them both very rewarding reading, and, like many other people, I have found that to read even a few verses every day is a very helpful habit.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, July 1952

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

McCall's, volume 79, July 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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Washington, DC