If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

May 1956


I read that you went on a diet and lost over 20 pounds. I would like to know your diet as I am also 70 and have been told that dieting would be harmful at my age.

I suppose you should not diet without your doctor's consent, but my diet was very simple. I simply drank less and ate less! I never drink liquor or much wine, but I drank even fewer fluids generally and ate no starches and very moderately of other things.


Is everyone in your family religious or do some think of themselves as agnostics or atheists?

I think everyone in my family believes in God. I have never heard any of them say they were agnostics or atheists, but I do not ask people, as a rule, even members of my family, what their beliefs are unless they talk about them openly.


I was surprised and pleased to see where Henry A. Wallace is now supporting Eisenhower. Maybe a little healthy farm life away from the left-wingers helped him see the light. I know you don't agree, but am wondering how you explain such a change of heart.

I have no explanation for Mr. Wallace's political positions. I have never understood his naiveté in not discovering the actual philosophy of the people he was working with, though I always have believed in his sincerity and I am quite sure he has arrived at his present convictions in a way I cannot comprehend but which for him is completely honest.


Where and when did you last take a vacation—I mean a real vacation, without any of your usual chores, speeches, and so forth.

I don't think I ever take one because I always write my column and always deal with my mail, but I frequently change my occupation so I never feel the need of what people call complete relaxation. I even think complete relaxation would be a little dull. Time to read everything I want to read is something I seek every summer but never quite succeed in finding.


What on earth made you sign that petition to get those sixteen Communists out of jail?

I am really not interested in any Communists and that was carefully stated in the petition, but I wished to call attention to the fact that the Smith Act, under which these people were sentenced, is from many points of view a dangerous act. Justices Black and Douglas brought this out at the time it was passed. Before the Smith Act was passed people who discussed their ideas but did not try to take action by force against our government were not subject to imprisonment. To curtail our right of discussion may be only a step from accusing people for what they think, rather than for what they do. This is dangerous to the traditions of a free country.

If you don't approve of a law, then you don't feel that anyone is rightfully convicted under that law. That is why I signed the appeal for this small group of people whose influence is about as strong in jail as out—and relatively unimportant.


Do you ever play games with your family? I'd like to know a good one to play with guests of widely different ages.

I very rarely play games, but my family does and so do my friends. I think a very popular game at present is one where the guests divide and write down certain things which the two teams act out. It is something like charades but on the whole more interesting.


Friends of mine say they get more pleasure from their grandchildren than from their own children. Do you?

No, I would not say so. I do, of course, get a great deal of pleasure from my grandchildren and since I have no feeling of responsibility about their immediate upbringing, it is a more relaxed kind of pleasure than I got from my own children. But I certainly enjoy being with my own children today as they mature more than I do being with the younger grandchildren. The older grandchildren as they begin to grow up are of great interest to me, but in both cases it is contact with my children as people that gives me the most pleasure.


Now that Russia has opened its doors to foreign visitors, are you going to make another attempt to visit there?

I don't think so. No one has asked me to go, and unless I had a very good reason for the trip I would certainly not go.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, May 1956

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

McCall's, volume 83, May 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
Old Main Building, Suite 406
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