If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

September 1952


Did you know anything about your husband's reported plan to establish a new party of liberal Republicans and Democrats with Wendell Willkie?

I know nothing about such a plan. My husband may have talked with Mr. Willkie, as he did with many other people, about the possibility of new party line-ups. The two parties, Republican and Democratic, today are similarly divided, with reactionaries in both parties. We used to discuss the possibility of getting a clear-cut liberal party to oppose a clear-cut reactionary party.


Why didn't you visit Madame Chiang on your recent Eastern trip?

I did not visit Madame Chiang because I did not have time to visit more countries than I did. I was asked to almost every country in Asia, except Communist China, but since I had to be home in time for a session of the Human Rights Commission I could not accept all the invitations.


How do you explain the grudge ex-President Hoover seems to hold against your husband in his recent memoirs.

I haven't read ex-President Hoover's book. I had a feeling that there would be bitterness in it, and I did not want to feel bitterly toward him. I think his feelings are perfectly human and natural. He failed to meet a crisis which my husband was able to meet. It probably was not his fault in any way but the fault of circumstances which he could not control.


My 18-year-old son confessed to me recently that he deliberately failed his intelligence test to avoid military service. I'm desperately upset about this, but I don't know what to do. Can you help me?

I am afraid there is nothing I can do to help you. This is a question between you and your own son, and perhaps the reason for his action lies in a background which only you and he know anything about.


I'd give anything to overcome my fear of air travel and airsickness, so that I could accompany my husband on plane trips. If you were ever frightened or sick when you first started to fly, will you tell me how you got over it?

I wish I could tell you that I overcame airsickness, but I cannot say I ever felt even a moment of real airsickness. I can remember feeling a little nauseated on a rough trip, but leaning back and closing my eyes did the trick. I don't remember ever being frightened, even on very bad trips.

In the matter of fright, however, I think it might help to do as you did when you said your prayers as a child in the dark. If you close your eyes and give yourself up to the will of God you will find that fear is nonexistent.


What do you think of the statement of the Negro U.N. delegate, Mrs. Edith Sampson, that "millions of people throughout the world have not such brilliant living conditions as the Negroes of America."

I think Mrs. Sampson spoke with great knowledge and absolute truth.


In photographs of your home I have never noticed any modern furniture or paintings. Is this because you dislike them?

Not at all. We have lived at home always with things that have been in the family for years. Outside of buying a comfortable chair or two now and then, I cannot remember buying any furniture for many years, so I am accustomed to rooms which are filled with old-fashioned things.


My husband and I were horrified when we read that your son Elliott had sold all that Hyde Park territory, even including his father's dream house. I say that you certainly never gave your approval to such a sale. Am I right?

I neither approved nor disapproved. I did not know what my son did until he did it, and he had a right to do it, since the property belonged to him. I learned a long while ago not to make judgments on what other people do.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, September 1952

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

McCall's, volume 79, September 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