If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

April 1956


If you had to be on one of those quiz shows, what field would you pick to answer questions in?

The U.N. during its first six years, or politics in the U.S.


Can you tell me what section of the country you get the most hostile mail from as a rule?

I get comparatively little hostile mail, but I would say that Southern California and the South in general are more likely to provide some critical comments.


What children's book made the deepest impression on you when you were young?

Dickens' Old Curiosity Shop, because my father always identified the Little Nell in that book with me and it gave it a special interest for me for that reason.


My family laughs when I use big words or when I eat in style. Do you suggest I keep practicing good manners to myself or keep on practicing before my family? I am 11 years old.

I don't know just what you mean by "eating in style." Good manners are very simple and I am sure your family would not laugh at you if you always practiced good manners. You say "please" and "thank you"; you eat slowly but not too slowly; you watch other people and are helpful in meeting their needs. You do not take too much of anything; you eat quietly; you put your knife and fork together on the plate when you have finished eating; you don't interrupt other people who are speaking during a meal; you listen respectfully and are nevertheless responsive if anyone speaks to you. Beyond that, I can think of very little that is required of either a child or grownup in the way of table manners, and "eating in style" is something I know nothing about.


With your husband as busy as he was, did you ever feel that you had to be both mother and father to your children?

Of course. That is one of the penalties of having a busy husband, and most women do sometimes resent it until they realize that often a husband who is not busy is not as desirable as an influence on the children, or as a companion.


What American in your opinion would have been particularly deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize for 1956?

Professor Whitman of M.I.T., for organizing the first scientific conference on peaceful uses of atomic energy, or James T. Shotwell, for long life and service to the cause of international collective security, justice and welfare.


What was the greatest bone of contention between you and your husband about rearing your children?

I can't remember that there was any particular bone of contention. I was somewhat troubled at one time as to what type of religious education should be given to the children, but my husband had no trouble in convincing me that neither he nor I had suffered from the traditional lines in which we had been taught. I remember wanting to keep one of our children at home longer than my husband and mother-in-law felt was right. I still think I was right but it never became a serious bone of contention between us. It was a matter of different judgment, and when I found that both my husband and my mother-in-law felt I was wrong I naturally gave in.


Maybe this is a question for Emily Post but I was surprised to see you wearing a corsage on your left shoulder. Isn't a corsage supposed to be worn on the right shoulder?

I haven't the faintest idea. I thought corsages were worn where they felt most comfortable and looked best. I didn't know there was any rule, and I am afraid I don't care!


Give me one good reason why the U.N. should admit Fascist Spain and keep Red China out?

The only good reason I know is that the Pentagon wants to be friendly with Spain because of our bases there. Fascism and Communism are so much the same that it seems there is very little choice between them. If we believe that eventually universal membership is desirable for the U.N., however, I suppose we might be glad for any move in that direction.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, April 1956

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

McCall's, volume 83, April 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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