The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition
If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt
Why did you never attend a big international conference with your husband as Mamie Eisenhower did at the Summit?
Because my husband went on a Naval ship and his feeling was very strong that women should not travel on Naval ships, I never went along. He also felt in most cases that there was no real place for women when business of that kind was being transacted. It was wartime and not a time for people to go just for entertainment. The Summit Conference was quite different. All the heads of state were able to bring their wives along and there was entertainment for the wives, which was not possible, of course, at wartime conferences.
Have you ever gone in for any health foods like yogurt, blackstrap molasses, wheat germ, and so forth?
A doctor suggested to me last year that yogurt was a good food and I take it now and then, but I really have no specific diet nor do I pay much attention to any special foods.
An editor here in St. Louis has described your husband as "merely the Kerensky of the American Revolution." Could you give me any idea of what that might mean?
I have no idea, except that Kerensky was the man who recognized the wrongs of the Czarist regime and tried to make some democratic reforms. I imagine the gentleman who wrote the article may have meant that my husband made some reforms which have preserved and strengthened the capitalist system.
My ex-husband is remarrying and has asked our eight-year-old son to attend his wedding. Does this seem to you a proper thing for a child to do?
Certainly the child has to make an adjustment to his father's remarriage, and attending the wedding may help him make it. He should be carefully and sympathetically prepared for the wedding and told that his stepmother will be a new friend who will enter his life because she has become a part of his father's life. For children who take things in a matter-of-fact way, these adjustments are sometimes not as difficult as one might think.
Do you favor Adlai Stevenson over Averell Harriman as the Democratic Presidential candidate in 1956?
I have stated right along that I hoped Adlai Stevenson would be the Democratic Presidential candidate in 1956. I consider him the best-qualified and -trained person in the United States to deal with problems in world affairs, which at the present time are the most pressing problems before the nation.
Could you tell me at what age you had your first date? I am sixteen and have almost no dates. Do you think it's true that lots of women who really amount to something aren't very popular when they are young?
I haven't any recollection of when I had my first date. At fifteen I was sent abroad to boarding school by my grandmother, and from that time on until I was eighteen I spent practically all of my time being educated. When I returned to this country I had no young friends at all, either boys or girls. I don't recommend this as an easy way for any young person to have a good time. I never had a date with any boy until after I was eighteen, and I couldn't have been very popular, since I didn't know any young people except the girls I had been in school with abroad.
Is it true, as I heard somewhere, that your husband was a great reader of detective stories? If so, can you remember any of his favorite authors?
Yes, my husband read a good many detective stories in the evening just before going to sleep, but I have not the remotest idea whether he ever had any favorite authors. They used to come in by the armful and I'm afraid I never even looked at the authors' names.
You said once history would show that Dean Acheson was a great secretary of state. What are your thoughts on John Foster Dulles' performance, compared to Acheson's?
I think Mr. Dulles has been a good secretary of state and the country has been fortunate in having a man with his fine, well-trained, legal mind. I do not think he is quite as sensitive to unexpressed feelings as Mr. Acheson could be in similar circumstances, nor does he seem able to catch the moods of others as quickly, for instance, as does President Eisenhower. Mr. Acheson had quite special gifts of imagination and sensitivity which helped him greatly in his relations with people.
Have you ever felt that your own "freedom of expression" was curtailed at any time? If so, I'd like to know how and when.
Naturally when my husband was active in politics I had to be careful not to say anything which might embarrass him or interfere with his activities. My husband never requested me not to print or to say anything, but when I felt a subject was controversial I always asked him about it first. I remember one occasion only when he suggested a change, and this was a word which he felt would be a little less antagonistic than the word I had used. This curtailment of my freedom of expression, if it can be called that, was entirely voluntary on my part.
About this document
If You Ask Me, November 1955
McCall's, volume 83, November 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