If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

March 1953


Have you been invited to the British Coronation? Do you plan to attend?

I haven't been invited to the British Coronation. No, I am afraid I will not be able to go to England at that time.


Our newspaper published an amazing picture of you, smiling, all sweetness and light, as you shook hands with Russia's Ambassador Gromyko at the recent opening of the U.N. Who are you kidding

I did not know I was kidding anyone. I was preserving the amenities. When you shake hands you usually smile. To reach our seats in the General Assembly we have to pass directly in front of the Russian and the United Kingdom delegates. I have known Mr. Gromyko for a long time, and the newspaper photographers

I believe as long as we serve in the General Assembly, or anywhere in the United Nations, we must be polite to one another, and we must be able to talk to one another in the hope that someday this bridge will be used for the benefit of a peaceful settlement of our difficulties.


How much truth do you think there is in your son John's statement that if your husband were living today he'd be ashamed of the Democratic party?

In all the years of my husband's political life I never remember hearing him make such a rash statement: therefore, I would hesitate to say what he might feel if he were with us today.


I am a fifth-grade history teacher. My pupils ask me why we can't end the war in Korea now, and I can't give them any answer that makes sense to a ten-year-old mind. Can you help me?

You might point out to your students that if two of them had a quarrel in which each held a very different point of view it might take a long while to find a point which would make enough sense to both to persuade them to stop fighting. In the case of Korea the United Nations has taken the stand that prisoners who do not wish to be returned to their country of origin will not be coerced. So far the North Koreans and the Chinese Communists, backed by the Russians, have been unwilling to accept this stand. Negotiations go on, and we hope that someday, perhaps even by the time this answer appears, a way will be found which is acceptable to all.


How can I tell young guests to be more considerate of my furniture without hurting their feelings?

I think you can do it if you do it lightly and with a certain amount of amusement. You can tease youngsters about not knowing how to be careful of things which you like to have treated with consideration. I have learned, however, that as long as one has young people around it is well not to have too many things that are easily injured.


Our principal won't let us start a "Christian Club" in our high school because, he says, there's a law forbidding religion in schools. Do you know if this is true, and if so do you think it is right?

In some states there is a law or a rule, if I remember rightly, that there shall be no religious teaching in public schools. Your principal probably thinks that since your school is made up of children belonging to a variety of religions it is wiser not to start any religious clubs. I think it is best for all of us to get the major part of our religious teaching and example at home and through our churches.


Last Sunday my husband tried to take a snapshot of me in front of the U.N. building in New York. A guard ordered us away. We are gold-star parents, with more than a passing interest in the U.N., and this was our first visit there. Was it necessary to treat us like this?

Not having been on the spot, I find it difficult to say why the guard ordered you away. Ordinarily the U.N. guards are most polite and considerate about the desires of visitors. Did you ask permission to take a photograph, or was there a crowd at the time so that the guard was trying to keep people moving? I cannot understand why there might have been any rudeness.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, March 1953

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

McCall's, volume 80, March 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
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