If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

November 1956


What do you consider the outstandingly best things and the outstandingly worst things the Eisenhower administration has done during its four years in office?

The best things, of course, are the increase in industrial employment, better wages, and the support of the social-security law and the extension of its coverage, the President's handling of foreign affairs at the Summit Conference, and his prevention of our going into war either in Viet-Nam or in the area around Formosa. I do not include the armistice in Korea, for that was bound to happen in any case. Nor do I include the over-all employment situation, which, as far as I can learn, is spotty and not basically better. The increase in our population has, of course, caused a rise in the number of people employed. The bad things are the handling of the farm situation and our natural resources generally—turning over to big business resources that I think should be kept under government auspices—and the ineptness of our foreign policy, which has brought us less friendship in the world as a whole.


Is anyone else among your children or grandchildren a Republican besides your son John?

None of my other children are Republicans. As for my grandchildren, there are nineteen of them, and very few are at an age where they can decide what their politics are going to be—and I have never inquired this of those that are old enough.


Every major capitol in the world has an opera house and every major country in the world finances its artists in some ways—except the United States. Why?

The U.S. is perhaps not quite old enough to have developed a sense of responsibility for its own cultural development. It is certainly improving, however, and year by year states are taking some responsibility. The federal government will probably assume more responsibility and has already shown signs of improvement.


Did any of your children openly oppose their father's views on politics, religion, behavior and the like while he was alive?

My children often argued particular points with their father. He encouraged them and the arguments were frequently heated and prolonged. However, being more experienced and better informed than the children were at that time, my husband usually came out the victor. I don't recall the children's opposing their father basically on politics, religion or behavior.


I'd like to know if and when you and your family dress for dinner?

I dress for dinner every night unless I haven't time or I am going to do something after dinner that makes it unwise to change. In the country I simply change into a short frock, not very different from the one I have been wearing all day. That gives me a chance to take a bath and feel fresh for the evening. In the city, even if I am dining alone or informally, I will put on a tea gown—either short or long. I only put on a formal dinner dress for a formal dinner. My family is very variable, and I cannot tell you what most of them do.


Do you approve of the newspapers' calling the First Lady "Mamie"? They didn't refer to you by your first name, did they?

I think I was frequently called Eleanor—quite as often, I am sure, as Mrs. Eisenhower has been called by her first name. I used to wonder whether one should resent it as being undignified or whether one should assume that those who did it did so out of affection. Certainly our Presidents who were generally called by their first names were held in high esteem and it did not affect their dignity in any way; so perhaps the wives of Presidents had better decide the same thing holds good for them!


I never was so horrified or outraged as by your statement about mixed marriages. If God wanted it that way, why did he create black, yellow and white races?

Why shouldn't God create different-colored races? Color doesn't amount to anything. It is what people are that matters. What I said about mixed marriages is quite simple. We can do very little about marriages. They are individual things, and people will do as they feel in large part; but it has been proved in the past that people of different races and religions have married and been happy. It might be better if they remained within their own race and religion; but when it has happened differently, sometimes it has been successful.


A lot of jokes are always made behind the backs of famous people. Did any of them reach your ears or your husband's? Knowing your husband's great sense of humor, I thought maybe there might have been some that stuck him as being funny.

We were constantly being told jokes which had been made about my husband or myself. If the jokes were friendly, my husband always enjoyed them and so did I. The bitter jokes, made in anything but a friendly spirit, we naturally did not enjoy. I find that one endures stories of this kind, however, without having them affect one in any way.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, November 1956

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

McCall's, volume 84, November 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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