If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

February 1955

 

In the past ten years have you changed you mind about the wisdom of any of your husband's policies?

No. As the years go by I see more and more clearly that my husband's policies, which were, of course, not his alone but those of his associates also, saved this country financially and socially. We still have a democracy, and we still have a capitalist economy. Unless we had met our problems in '33 in a satisfactory manner we might have had truly radical changes, as did many other countries.

 

Our state employment agency has advised me to lie about my age in order to get a job. I am 37, healthy and a capable secretary, but the job ads, without exception, are for women "between 18 and 35." Can nothing be done to change this senseless situation?

I should think it inadvisable to lie about your age. I would trust to being interviewed and having people see that you are healthy and capable and, perhaps because you are 37, have a little more experience and therefore can handle you job better.

 

Did you have your babies at home or in the hospital? And were you given anesthesia or not?

I had my babies at home, as did most women of my age. I had some chloroform toward the end, which was the custom in those days.

 

The French newspapers are saying that McCarthy may be dead but "McCarthyism" is as alive as ever in the United States. Do you believe this is true?

The French newspapers undoubtedly have good reporters in this country. However, I would have to know which newspaper made this statement. If it was Communist or near Communist I would think it was said as propaganda against the U.S.

Neither McCarthy nor McCarthyism is dead in this country, but the people are gradually growing to realize that they have been well protected by the FBI and they can trust that organization without all the extracurricular activities that we have been having in the last few years.

 

Do you approve of married women using their maiden names? Would you have done this if your maiden name had not been Roosevelt?

I do not think it is a question of approval, it is a question of what you prefer to do. If you have made your name as a businesswoman you may want to continue to use that name for business purposes. I was not in business and I have never had a career, so I would no doubt have used my husband's name. I much prefer now to be called "Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt," but this is purely a matter of personal taste.

 

The wife of the postmaster in our town got a nice personal acknowledgement of a letter she wrote you once. I have written you and also sent a birthday greeting, and I wonder why I did not get an answer?

I am surprised if you wrote on some subject that required an answer that you did not receive one. I do try to answer all letters that require an answer. As far as birthday greetings are concerned, I am afraid a great many people were not answered except through my column, because the cards, telegrams and letters which I receive on my birthday, as well as at Christmas, are so many that it is impossible to send personal acknowledgements to everybody.

I am very grateful for your thought of me, and if you wrote on a subject which required an answer I will be glad to answer if you will write again.

 

Did your husband ever address you by any special name or nickname?

Oh, yes! He occasionally addressed me as his "Missus," and when I was young he sometimes called me "Babs," but he did not use any nickname often.

 

If segregation is unconstitutional, can you tell me why it took the Supreme Court 150 years to find this out?

No law is static. All law responds to the development of the world and the nation. In the case of segregation, it is coming home to people more and more that the world is growing constantly smaller and since only a little over half of the people of the world are "white" we can't have discrimination.

 

I understand that each of your children had the privilege of choosing a favorite memento from your husband's possessions when he died, and I'm very curious to know what they chose.

This was not the way my husband's will read. The things which he had not given to the library, but which were on loan there, and all things which were stored or in the Hyde Park house, were left for me to choose from and then each of the children, according to age. The one restriction was that we choose only what we could use in our homes and that we leave the Hyde Park house as if it were still being lived in.

I followed my husband's instructions closely, and so did the children, and I did not take very much because I already had my own things and I was moving to much smaller quarters.

 

Why is it, do you think, that the chairmen and campaign managers of the Democratic National Committee for the past 50 years have been Irish and Roman Catholic?

I did not know this was true. I would have to look back in the record to find out. If it is true it may simply indicate that as a nation we have not made an issue of people's religion. We have asked them rather if they could do the job, and this is how it should be in a democratic country.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, February 1955

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

McCall's, volume 82, February 1955

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
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