If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

September 1955

 

In a recent issue of McCall's you used an odd expression in answering a question concerning Lord Dunsany's blast at modern poetry—"It is permissible," you said, "for the Irish to become irate." Since your column absolutely blossoms with good will toward Puerto Ricans, Jews and Negroes, this slur at the Irish struck us as rather strange.

I was amused in answering this question and meant to be funny. Evidently one should never say anything, even in fun, which can possibly be misinterpreted. I can only tell you that, since I have always heard that the Irish are famous for their warm hearts and hot tempers, I thought this answer was permissible!

 

Do you carry fire or theft insurance and have you ever collected on either one?

I carry both theft and fire insurance and I have collected on theft a number of times.

 

Do you agree with the opinion of the American Law Institute that adultery laws should be removed from our statute books?

I am not familiar with this opinion and I have not given the question any very deep thought, but I think on the whole it would be well to remove the old adultery laws from our statutes.

 

A wild and untrue advertisement against United Nations has been running in a paper out here in Oregon. Why doesn't the U.N. take legal action against anyone who prints such slander?

I don't know why, but if you will send the clipping to the U.N. Secretary General I am sure he will tell you. The rights of organizations to sue are something I know nothing about, but I do know that an individual cannot sue for slander unless he can prove that his ability to earn a living has been impaired by whatever has been circulated against him.

 

Is it true that you lost a child in infancy? I ask because my daughter just lost her first-born baby. If you had such a tragedy, Mrs. Roosevelt, I am wondering what helped you most to get over it.

We lost our third child, who was named Franklin, at eight months from a heart ailment which came, we thought, from flu.

I think it is harder to bear when you have no other children; the loss of your first baby is a real tragedy. It happened to my brother and his wife and also to my youngest son and his wife. The disappointment is great and the only consolation is that, having had one baby, there will probably be more; but nothing can really ease the heartache except time, and faith in the wisdom and love of God.

 

My blood is boiling! A lawyer told a group of us here (Memphis, Tennessee) that the Dixon-Yates project would cost our government three to four times the money we'd otherwise pay to get the same results through TVA. Is this true, Mrs. Roosevelt? And if it's true can you tell me why anyone, even for a minute, would consider such a project?

I am not familiar with the exact cost under the Dixon-Yates proposed contract, but you could quite easily check it against TVA figures which you could get by writing the members of the TVA Commission. As to the support for this project, I can only say that many people in our government at the present time seem to feel that private enterprise will always serve us better than government undertakings.

 

In a recent issue of McCall's you said you had seen some "very delightful" homes for old people where you would be "entirely contented to go and live." I should like very much to know the names and locations of those homes.

I have seen one home for old gentlemen in Washington, D.C., which is really delightful, and I recall a very pleasant home in New York for old couples. I have also visited people in various religious denominational homes which I thought, on the whole, fairly livable. In Europe I was impressed by an old people's village in Belgium and apartments for the aged in Sweden. But if you want to know a definite place to go yourself, I think you should contact your church or possibly a social agency for suggestions.

 

You preface so many of your answers with "it would seem" or "it may be." I should like a yes or no answer to this question: Do you think you could get along happily on a $200-per-month income such as many people in this country have?

Yes, if I had to. I think I could probably find a way to do it and not be too unhappy, although it would mean, of course, an entire change in my way of living and in my ability to give.

 

As the wife of a Master Mason, why did you never join the Order of the Eastern Star?

I don't think I was ever asked to join. Also, I worked on so many things and was so busy both at home and with outside interests that my husband was never eager to have me join too many organizations.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, September 1955

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

McCall's, volume 82, September 1955

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