If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

January 1957


When good personal friends take opposite sides politically, do you find it usually breaks up the friendship? I am wondering, for example, what your relation with the Averell Harrimans is now.

No. I see no reason for a friendship's being broken up because one holds different points of view on a variety of subjects. Friendship does not depend on seeing things exactly in the same way. My feelings are as warm and friendly toward Averell Harriman as they have ever been, and I hope he bears me no grudge for working for what I believed to be best for our country at this time.


Would you advise me to tell my daughter that I met her father by way of the "Strictly Personal" column in our newspaper?

I can't imagine why you should not tell your daughter. It seems to me quite a simple matter to impart that piece of information.


Do you go along with Adlai Stevenson's comment: "I have never doubted the verdict of the jury which convicted Alger Hiss"?

Yes. Mr. Hiss was convicted of perjury by the jury, and I don't think any of us has a right to question that verdict unless new testimony is brought in. The chance for a rehearing must always be left open.


I have always wondered what was the right thing to do when introduced to the President of the United States. Do you just extend your hand or do you wait for him? Is it all right to call him "Mr."?

I think most Presidents hold out their hand immediately at an introduction so you will not have to hesitate. They know quite well that almost every individual is a little shy when meeting the President of the United States, and they are eager to put the person at his ease. You address the President as "Mr. President," and when you do not want to repeat it you say "Sir."


How can I get a nice picture of your husband to hang in our hall?

You can get a picture of my husband by writing the photographers Harris and Ewing, 1304 G Street, N.W., Washington 5, D.C.; or by writing Pach Brothers, 673 Fifth Avenue, New York 22, New York. If you want a colored picture of the Salisbury portrait, you might get one from the New York Graphic Society, 10 West 33rd Street, New York 1, New York.


So many people coming to America for the first time say New York City is terribly dirty compared to other big cities. Is this true?

I think that it depends on what cities you are comparing it with. There are far dirtier cities, and there are others far, far cleaner. I can't say that I consider our City of New York perfection, but I am accustomed to it and I love it, therefore I notice its defects far less than a stranger might.


I agree with you about the importance of integration, but I wonder if you agree with me that the N.A.A.C.P. expects too much too fast.

I would say that, quite naturally, certain members of the N.A.A.C.P. try to push a little bit harder than is quite wise. But on the whole I think we have to be grateful to the N.A.A.C.P., because without their enthusiasm and the great ability of Thurgood Marshall we would probably never have won the legal cases which have helped so much in gaining rights for all our citizens in this country.


Whom of all the people you have known in your life would you call really great?

If you restrict me to people I have known, that covers a comparatively short time, for seventy-odd years is not a long period of history. However, I would call my uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, great; also Woodrow Wilson, Senator George Norris, Bernard Baruch, my husband—all great men for different reasons in varying degrees. If I included other countries, I could name others, but I imagine you were interested in Americans.


In a 1931 magazine we have in the attic I ran across an ad to sell a maple bed for $44. It said to contact Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York City. Was this you?

Yes, it was. I ran a furniture factory with Miss Cook and Miss Dickerman for a number of years, and we sold furniture, made largely by hand, at our factory in New York City.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, January 1957

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

McCall's, volume 84, January 1957

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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