If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

January 1953


Now that Mr. Truman is leaving the White House for good, will you please tell me frankly what you think of the job he did as President?

I think, given the difficulties of the times in which he served, he did extremely well. We all have definite limitations—and naturally President Truman has certain limitations, just as my husband had or any human being has—but being President in the last eight years has meant carrying such a heavy responsibility and making such difficult decisions that I think we can feel extremely fortunate that, judging by the results, the President has been both courageous and wise.


How do you feel about changing the calendar so every month has 28 days and holidays come on Friday or Monday?

I am opposed to changing the calendar. It upsets certain religious sects very much, and I cannot see that the advantages to be gained are so very important.


Our hospitals never seem to have enough funds. Would you favor a national sweepstakes to help them out, the way they do in Ireland and England?

No, I would not. I would favor more understanding and participation by all and a greater increase in small subscriptions to all hospitals which are privately financed.


I suppose every new first lady must worry about making mistakes. Do you feel you made any serious ones during your first year in the White House?

I am afraid I am not the one to pick out what serious mistakes I made. Plenty of people have picked them out and mentioned them, but I did not always happen to agree that the things to which people objected were mistakes, so this is a question you will have to ask someone else.

I can tell you one thing I did that horrified the head usher, Mr. Ike Hoover, and that was running the electric elevator myself. He thought that very undignified and an unpardonable sin. However, before I left the White House it was accepted as a perfectly normal procedure.


Do you have a special way of making yourself inconspicuous when you don't want people to recognize you in public places?

No. I only move very quickly. I find if I never look at anyone and move fast I am frequently not recognized.


The Russians invited English and American industrialists to Moscow and fed them all kinds of Soviet propaganda. Why don't we return the invitation and ask Russian labor leaders to visit this country? If they accept, they'll find out what lies they have been told at home. If they refuse, this fact would be worth publicizing in Europe.

I think it would be an excellent thing to do, but I do not know whether they would be convinced by anything they saw. They are so accustomed to having things made to look different from what they are for a purpose. I think it would not be strange if they thought we created a special kind of environment for them if they came over here.


Have you ever voted Republican?

No, I have never voted Republican because women did not have a vote prior to 1920. In 1912 I attended meetings and would have voted for Theodore Roosevelt had women been allowed to vote at that time. Since that time I have never voted for a Republican candidate because I never felt that on the whole the Republican candidate was better than the Democratic candidate.


You always look so pleasant and natural in your pictures. I wish I knew your secret. I freeze even when my husband tries to get a candid snapshot of me.

I used to take horrible photographs, until one of the people who had a great deal to do with newspapers and who was with my husband told me once to try to remember to smile. He said it would do me no harm and it would make a tremendous difference in my photographs. I have tried to do it ever since, and in addition I try to forget when people are taking photographs, and I think it works pretty well.


Would you mind giving me your definition of a snob?

A snob is usually an unkind person with an inflated idea of his or her own importance.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, January 1953

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

McCall's, volume 80, January 1953

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
1951 F Street, NW
Washington, DC