If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

May 1957


Is it correct to call men by titles they no longer hold? I'm thinking of the way you always refer to Adlai Stevenson as “Governor” and the way others often call Harry Truman "President."

As a matter of fact, I always call Mr. Truman "Mr. President," because when a man has held a high office he usually keeps the title for the rest of his life. That is why people call Mr. Stevenson "Governor" and men who have been senators are called "Senator." Whether this is correct or not, I don't know; but I do know it certainly is very common usage.


My son passed away as the result of polio August, 1956, on the island of Guam. Do you think that should entitle me to be classed as a Gold Star Mother?

I wish I knew the rules for becoming a Gold Star Mother, but I'm afraid I don't. My impression is that it was only during wartime that mothers were given the gold star when their sons were killed in action.


Is your name used with your knowledge and support as Honorary Chairman of the Americans for Democratic Action?

It most certainly is! I was one of the founders of A.D.A.—at least, I was present at their first meeting and have been a member ever since. I believe that their objectives are good and keep us alert to and aware of problems we should think about. I don't always agree with A.D.A. policies and actions, but one can't expect to agree on everything with any group.


Do you agree that President Eisenhower's warm reception for King Saud was a slap in the face to Catholics and Jews all over the United States?

No. The President was receiving the head of a state in the proper manner. I take it for granted that he had good reasons for wanting to have personal talks with King Saud; otherwise I am quite sure he would not have invited him. If the President had told the people of the country his reasons for so doing, they might have reacted differently; but I think that once the President has invited the head of a state to this country we must take it for granted that there is a legitimate and important reason.


Did your husband earn his own living when you were first married or did you have to depend on the money he had inherited?

My husband was in law school the first year of our marriage. He had inherited a small income and so had I and we lived on this, but as soon as he went into a law firm we used mainly what he earned for joint living expenses.


Our sixth-grade history book says that the cave men were the first people on earth, but the Bible says that Adam and Eve were the first. Who do you believe were the first?

The Bible is a book of history. Adam and Eve are symbolic of the first people on earth. As a history the Old Testament tells the symbolic story of the development which the scientists tell us went on through the early eons of time.


In recent pictures of you I have noticed, besides your usual pearls, that you are wearing a chain with what looks like a small medallion. Does this stand for anything special?

I don't know what I could have had on. I always wear a thin chain, but it has no medallion and the locket at the end is not visible. I wonder if you could have seen me wearing a string of amethyst and crystal beads with a large crystal in the clasp in front, which might have looked like a medallion. These belonged to my mother-in-law and I sometimes wear them. My usual pearls are being restrung, so I have been wearing some different things during the last weeks.


What do your grandchildren call you?

Most of my grandchildren use the French word and call me "Grandmère." Some of them call me "Grandmother."


Do you think it's fair for the President of the United States to get his salary tax-free?

Yes, I think it is fair. He is a public servant, and others are treated in the same way. The President is taxed, however, on any income that he may have outside of his salary; and I assure you that if a man is fortunate enough to have outside income it is all spent on the cost of being President. If a man does not have outside income, he is very likely to go out of office owing some money.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, May 1957

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

McCall's, volume 84, May 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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