If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

June 1954


Where does one buy old-fashioned ribbed stockings like those you were wearing in a recent picture in McCall's? I would love to have some for gardening.

I got my stockings in a large department store in London.


Could you tell me of any certain experience you have had where a sense of humor saved the day?

I could tell you of so many that I can't at the moment decide which one to choose.

I remember a time when a very recalcitrant small boy, refusing to get ready to go to church with me, almost reduced me to tears. Then it suddenly occurred to me how funny it was to see him lying on the stairs and holding on to the bannisters while I tried to get him to stand up and get his clothes, and I burst out laughing. He was so surprised that he got up and got his clothes. I also remember one night when I was a young married woman and people came to dinner whom I did not expect. Their arrival might have been a tragedy, but we made it a joke and everybody ended by having a good time.

I have seen my husband pull people together who were miles apart in their thinking by telling an amusing story, so a sense of humor is useful on many levels of existence.


What is the logic of keeping Red China out of the U.N. when we accept Russia and several other Communist countries as members?

The Soviet Union was one of the founders of the U.N., so it is not a question of accepting the Soviet Union, since they can veto any move for expulsion. Taking in a new country is another thing, particularly if that country is still not at peace with the U.N. The situation is an entirely different one.


My grandchildren tell me it is bad taste for a woman nearing 70 to wear royal blue, light pink or lilac-colored clothes (all colors I love). I've never seen a picture of you in color. Do you stick to conservative colors or not?

No. I see no connection whatsoever between age and the colors one wears. One wears what is becoming and practical. In summer I wear every possible color, and I think it would be a drab world indeed if all the older people had to wear black and purple.


Who in your opinion is this country's greatest living novelist?

This country's greatest living novelist, I imagine, is Ernest Hemingway.


Did you ever have a time problem—being too late or too early or not being able to budget time? I marvel so at the magnificent way you manage your time today.

Oh, yes. I used to be too early when I was first married and annoy my husband by complaining when he was late. Then, seeing that it irritated him, I studiously became the late one. But some things always had to be on time—for instance, I had to be on time whenever I was doing anything with my children, and when we were in the White House no one was ever allowed to keep the President waiting—so again I learned to be on time, and now I think I am fairly good at keeping on schedule.


You said in McCall's that the best fight against Communism is being waged by labor and the liberals. Are you ignoring the great part the Catholic Church is playing in that fight?

No. But I did not mention any of the churches. I think all the churches are playing a very important part against Communism, but it seems to me that labor has the most tangible part because it is the field in which Communists actually try to make their greatest inroads.


How do you avoid distraction, depression and the total inability to work that occasionally besets most people in this difficult life?

As far as distraction goes, I learned how to concentrate many years ago by having to read in a living room where my boisterous children were playing. I have never found that depression took such a hold on me that I was not able to work. In fact, concentration on work and being interested in it is the best antidote I know for depression. I think it requires self-discipline, and that has been more or less forced on me ever since I was a child, so it has become a rather settled habit by now.

A question and answer which appeared on this page in March indicated that children over 18 could not be claimed for income-tax deduction, regardless of their dependency status. This is not the case. Since 1944 age has not been considered a restriction in dependency deductions from the federal income tax. We apologize for creating a misleading impression. – The Editors

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About this document

If You Ask Me, June 1954

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

McCall's, volume 81, June 1954

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