If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

February 1956


Are you in favor of the bill your son introduced in Congress to grant women their Social Security payments at 62?

Yes, though it seems to me that old-age pensions should be revised and given at the ages when people are found really to need them. Social Security should, I think, be available to all at 62 if the financial basis of the fund can be made secure.


Do you believe in spanking children when they misbehave? What kind of punishment did you give your own children?

I think one must decide punishment in relation to the individual child. Some children take a spanking better than other forms of punishment, but there are others who can't bear to be physically touched. The important thing, I feel, is never to punish the child in anger. I have occasionally spanked a child, but it was a very light spanking. I usually took my children to their father to be spanked, but he could seldom bring himself to do more than make believe.


Don't you think that Averell Harriman should free himself of Carmine DeSapio's influence?

I hardly think that Governor Harriman considers himself under Carmine DeSapio's influence. It is difficult to free oneself from something when one is not aware of its existence.


Have you had any opportunities to remarry and does the idea appeal to you at all?

This seems to me a very personal question and somewhat impertinent, but I am willing to say that I have not had any opportunities for remarrying and I would prevent them from occurring if I thought they might occur.


How did your husband show his gratitude for the help he received from political bosses?

My husband treated all the people who worked for him as fairly as possible. If they were political bosses asking for appointments, all he asked was that they justify these requests by showing that the people proposed were fitted for the job. As a rule these appointments are all a boss wishes, and if he knows he must find people really well fitted for a post he will usually come up with them.


Would you accept the Vice-Presidential nomination for the Democratic Party?

Certainly not.


I saw a picture of you driving a car recently and wondered if you'd had any accidents since that one some years back? Also, was it hard for you to get started driving again? My wife knocked down a man with our car and she won't drive at all now.

No, I have had no accidents since the one I had on the parkway when I fell asleep for a second. I have driven often since then, and it has not been difficult because I knew quite well what caused the accident you mention. I had started out when I was tired with no one in the front seat to talk with and that was not a wise thing to do. Now I don't drive when tired.

Your wife had a different experience but I think she will get back her confidence in time.


I am curious to know if you and your husband ever had a long-standing difference in opinion on any subject.

I think no people who have been married for many years can say they have not had long-standing differences of opinion. I think my most amusing difference of opinion with my husband concerned the amount of night air which was healthy.


You said recently in McCall's that if Herbert Hoover had a recovery program like your husband's why didn't he put it into effect between 1929 and 1932. My dear lady, did you not know that Herbert Hoover's legislation was blocked by a Democratic Congress?

I certainly did know that Herbert Hoover had a Democratic Congress, but the country was in such a position in those years that I feel sure had he asked the House and Senate to support a constructive program of this kind he could have attained unity in the Congress.


Is there any special advice you might give a girl without a college education who is marrying a college graduate? Were you ever uncomfortable in this position?

Certainly I never felt uncomfortable. A girl can be just as well educated as any college graduate if she reads a great deal. If her husband has a special interest, the girl should read up on this and on the things which would help him in his career, but she certainly need not have any feeling of inferiority.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, February 1956

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

McCall's, volume 83, February 1956

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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Washington, DC