If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

September 1954


In her book The Captains and the Kings Mrs. Edith Helm says that after one of Sir Winston Churchill's wartime visits to the White House "President Roosevelt was heard to express a fervent hope that he wouldn't have to drink any cocktails for at least a week." Is it true that Mr. Churchill drank that much when he stayed with you?

I never heard my husband make that remark. He might easily have made it, however. As to what Mr. Churchill drank, I have no idea. I hope that in our house he had whatever he felt he wanted.


What newspapers do you subscribe to or read every day?

The New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, New York World-Telegram, New York Post and now and then the Christian Science Monitor.


One day I see you quoted as saying that Eisenhower has made "a sickening succession of surrenders" to McCarthy, the next I read that you think it's up to the Senate, not the President, to curb McCarthy. Just where do you stand, please.

I don't remember having said what you put in quotation marks. It may have been the impression that somebody gathered from what I had said. I think the President, under advice, has done many things in connection with Senator McCarthy that he should not have done. However, I don't think that the President alone should bear the responsibility of curbing the Senator and his activities. This is something which, while action by the President would be welcome in certain areas, is really primarily the responsibility of the Senate.


Have you ever tried to visit an important person in another country and not been allowed to?

I have never tried to visit any important people unless I knew they wanted to see me or unless there was a compelling reason that I should see them. So I can't recall at any time having anyone refuse to see me.


I read somewhere recently that you once thought you saw the ghost of Abraham Lincoln in your sitting room in the White House. Is this true?

No. I told a story of a young woman who said she thought she saw the ghost of Abraham Lincoln sitting on her bed in the White House. I also said that in old houses like the White House one felt sometimes at night as though someone might be in the room. I have turned from my desk on occasions feeling that there was a presence in the room, but I have never seen anyone.


Have you ever attempted any creative writing, like a short story or novel or play?

Yes. I wrote a little story called "A Christmas Story" for children once, but it is not a real story.


Is it true that during the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's first two visits to the White House you were absent and your husband had to entertain them alone? I am curious to know why this was.

I did not know I was away for the first two visits. I know I was unable to be there for one visit. The reason was that I had made lecture arrangements for which I had signed contracts and therefore could not break them.


Our Community Chest includes the United Defense Fund, which "finances USO and four other defense-related services." Now that the shooting has stopped, do you honestly feel there's a need for us to support the U.D.F. services?

Yes, indeed. Nothing has stopped but the shooting. More than three million young Americans are in uniform, many of them stationed in far-away, isolated, bleak areas. One way we can keep them aware of our faith and support is by providing adequate health and recreation services for them through the United Defense Fund.


Did you share your mother-in-law's feeling that Mr. Roosevelt should abandon a political career after his polio, or were you on the side of Louis Howe?

I was on the side of my husband's physician, Dr. George Draper, who felt it would be very sad to prevent my husband from taking up his interests and activities again. Louis Howe agreed with Dr. Draper, but the doctor was responsible primarily for my feeling in the matter.


My Girl Scout troop is looking for a motto that will be different and still give us a good thought to keep in our minds. Could you suggest something?

The best motto, I think, for the Girl Scouts is something that will remind them that every action of their daily lives should be motivated by a desire to help others. How would it do to have something like "Always Be Kind"?

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About this document

If You Ask Me, September 1954

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

McCall's, volume 81, September 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
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