The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition
If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt
Is it true that in 1950 you expressed the thought to certain friends that Dwight Eisenhower might be a good Democratic nominee for the Presidency?
As a grandmother I wonder if you find it as hard as I do not to be critical of the way some of your grandchildren are being brought up? Doesn't all this lack of discipline with the little ones gall you at times?
Never. I think perhaps my grandchildren have more discipline in many ways than my own children had. They certainly have more responsibility in the home, and do more to keep the family life running smoothly.
I think my daughters-in-law are wonderful the way they manage their lives and bring up their children, and I think both my daughter and my sons have been wonderful with their children. I feel very humble when I realize how much better they work out their relationships with their children than I ever did.
Did you ever receive any formal recognition for the work you did during the war?
There is no reason why I should receive any formal recognition. I only did the things my husband felt might be useful. If anyone deserved recognition for this he should have been the one to receive it.
Have you ever had any kind of massage or special physical exercise or therapy to keep you in good condition as you got older?
I have never had a regular massage, but I do go once every few weeks to an osteopath, who gives me a good going-over, and every day for as long back as I can remember I have done exercises in the morning and occasionally in the evening. They have, of course, become a little less strenuous as I have grown older, but I still do them daily. Aside from that I have a regular going-over every year or two, and my doctor gives me certain vitamins which he considers beneficial to the "ancient system." Otherwise I try to forget that I am old and manage pretty well most of the time, feeling sometimes as young as my grandchildren.
According to the Republican Edward Corsi, millions of people, denied admission to the United States under the McCarran act, are being forced back into the Iron Curtain countries from which they escaped. President Eisenhower is deeply alarmed about this situation, Corsi says. You too must be alarmed, Mrs. Roosevelt. And yet Republicans and Democrats alike sit by quietly while Russia makes millions of converts. Why?
Senator Lehman, Senator Kennedy and some of their colleagues have been making great efforts to change the McCarran-Walter immigration law so that more people can come into the country. The International Rescue Committee and various other organizations are trying to make it possible for escapees to have help and the hope of a new life after they cross the border. They appreciate keenly the danger of these refugees' being driven back into the Iron Curtain countries by sheer necessity because they can't support themselves. But these private organizations are constantly asking for money, and the public responds with meager enthusiasm.
I know your son Franklin inherited his father's looks, but I was wondering which of your husband's traits you feel the other children inherited?
I feel that all the children inherited a great many of my husband's characteristics. Nearly all of them when they speak, especially over the radio, have some of his mannerism and intonations of voice. Several of them inherited some of his good looks. Many of them have a sense of personal responsibility for public service in their locality even if they do not feel that this requires them to work actively in political positions. All of them as they grow older appreciate more and more their father's breadth of vision and breadth of interest, and this leads inevitably to their developing some of the same traits he had throughout his life.
Do you think there was more or less newspaper criticism of your husband's administration than there is now of Eisenhower's administration?
There was far more criticism during my husband's administration. It is well known that few newspapers ever support a Democratic president, and therefore he is bound to have more criticism of his policies. However, even a Republican president must get his share. On the whole I think this is not a bad thing, because it stimulates people to try to do better.
I have to write five lines about one important person's life. Can you tell me some things you would put in about your life?
I have never thought of myself as particularly important, but if I had to mention a few things I value I suppose I might mention that I had served in the early years in the UN and was grateful for having been able to be of some use in that organization; that I am grateful to have had some part in the life of a great man; and for having brought five children to maturity who have met life on their own, made mistakes, been of service and have, I think, learned each year some of the essentials of living—the most important ones being that the basic principles of life must be kindness and an effort to help other human beings rather than to hurt them.
About this document
If You Ask Me, October 1955
McCall's, volume 83, October 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
312 Academic Building
2100 Foxhall Road, NW
Washington, DC 20007