If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

July 1957


It's hard to believe you could suggest Wayne Morse as a possible Democratic nominee for President in 1960. Have you forgotten the words your own husband spoke against this man?

I have no recollection of my husband's ever speaking against Wayne Morse. I will, however, look up what he said. It is possible that even if my husband once disagreed with Senator Morse on some point he might think of him differently today. I feel obligated to think of Wayne Morse as he is today, taking into account his life and his record. I admire him regardless of what my husband may have said about him in the past.


What is your opinion of sororities and fraternities? Would you be happy to have a child of yours belong to one?

Many of my children have belonged to fraternities, and of course I was happy to have them belong. It is what these organizations stand for that is important, not the mere fact of their existence. I should condemn any sorority or fraternity that made its membership depend on racial or religious restrictions, and I would be sorry to see any child of mine accept membership in such an organization.


Is it true you used to wear a necklace of real tiger claws? If so, where did you get it?

It is true that I sometimes wear a necklace made of real tiger claws. My father when he was twenty went around the world, at a time when it was most unusual for young Americans to take this trip. He was a good sportsman and a fine shot and he hunted tiger in India and elephant in Ceylon. He also went to Kashmir and through the Khyber Pass, and he left a record in letters to his mother which I published some years ago in a book called Hunting Big Game in the Eighties. The letters showed real feeling not only for the sport of hunting but for the many beautiful things he saw on his trip. He had the necklace and a whole set of jewelry mounted for his mother in India. She died a year after he came home and this jewelry came to his wife—my mother—and her jewelry eventually came to me.


An article in McCall's recently criticized the practices of certain faith healers. I would like to know your own feeling about faith healers who receive an exceptionally large income from their work.

I believe very strongly that faith in God will help us in any situation—physical, mental or spiritual—and if anyone can help us to greater faith, I do not think the question of how good a living he makes matters too much. I would consider his earning capacity as I would consider that of any other person. The important question, from my point of view, is not how much money such a person makes, but whether he is doing something genuine or is acting more or less as a quack.


Which of these subjects do you think would help me most to become a member of the United Nations when I am older: American history, physics, algebra II, Spanish, geography, chemistry, plane geometry, public speaking, bookkeeping, typing, democracy?

The subjects that would help you are: Spanish, geography, public speaking, democracy, American history. If you need mental discipline, any of the other things you mention would be valuable, especially mathematics. For certain types of jobs in the UN typing and shorthand would be extremely valuable.


How much importance do you think wealth had in helping your husband up the political ladder?

My husband was never a wealthy man, particularly not in his youth, but he did have enough money so that he felt free to run for office, knowing that he could support his family modestly and would not be depending for bread and butter only on his salary. That sense of freedom may have contributed to his entering politics. I am glad that my husband did not have great wealth, however, because I feel that this is a detriment to anyone who wants to run for public office.


Would you be in favor of having certain holidays like Armistice Day, Decoration Day, and so forth, permanently fixed on Monday so we would have more three-day weekends?

I think this is a wonderful idea. It would probably give added pleasure to a great many people, and pleasure contributes to the health of the nation.


What would you say is the most disagreeable single thing you have to put up with, being a celebrity?

I don't think I am a celebrity and therefore don't find I have any disagreeable things to put up with. I am an old lady and have been long in the public eye because of my husband's position. Therefore, a great many people recognize me and are kind to me, but I don't think that is disagreeable and neither does it make me a celebrity!

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About this document

If You Ask Me, July 1957

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

McCall's, volume 84, July 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
Old Main Building, Suite 406
1951 F Street, NW
Washington, DC