If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

August 1957

 

Do you feel your husband would have approved rearming Germany and building up her industries the way we are now doing?

It is impossible under new circumstances to state whether someone who is no longer here to speak his own mind would or would not approve. I personally, however, would far prefer to see Germany live as an unarmed buffer state, with East and West Germany reunited.

 

Do you have anything to do with the editorial policy of McCall's?

Nothing whatsoever.

 

Do you have any thoughts about who might act the parts of you and your husband in the play that I understand is coming out next year about your family? I think Fredric March and Florence Eldridge would be good. If it's not too nosy, could you tell me what you get paid for giving permission to do this play?

Mr. Dore Schary is going to do a play that covers only the years of my husband's life from the time he was taken ill with polio to the time of the convention of 1944. I have no idea who will play the parts; this is in Mr. Schary's hands. Nor have I any idea what arrangements have been made financially. Some years ago all the members of the family gave my son Franklin power of attorney to handle the rights to any dramatization of my husband's life. Whatever comes from this would, of course, be shared by the whole family and would not come to me alone.

 

I have been told that your family has never hired Catholic servants. If this is true, I would like an explanation of it.

I never remember inquiring about religion, and I am quite sure my mother-in-law never asked anyone who was being interviewed what his religion was. It is not a question I consider one has a right to ask. It happens that I have had many Roman Catholic servants, as did my mother-in-law, and my husband and I both have had Catholic secretaries at various times.

 

Does the money you get from those hearing aid advertisements go to charity? If not, I just cannot understand your lowering yourself in that way?

I can't see that it lowers one in any way to let people know through an advertisement that a hearing aid or anything else has been helpful. In the matter you mention it happens that the only financial transaction was a gift to the Wiltwyck School, which is one of the charities I am most interested in.

 

I find myself more and more exasperated with the way salespeople, taxi drivers, waitresses and others automatically address everyone as "honey," "dear," "sister," and the like, and in general show no courtesy to the people they are serving. To my knowledge this does not happen in other countries. Why should it be so frequent here? (It is frequent, Mrs. Roosevelt, even though you yourself may not have met with it.)

I don't think this kind of address is meant as a discourtesy. It is simply a manner of speech. I am always rather pleased when people call me by my first name, as they sometimes do in the streets or in the shops, because I know that as a rule it is a term of affection rather than a lack of courtesy. I myself would always speak to an older woman I did not know well as "Miss" or "Mrs.," but I feel sure that saying "honey" or "dear" is more a habit people have fallen into than intentional rudeness.

 

What can you say to revive my wavering faith in the Democratic Party?

I doubt that there is anything I can say to revive your wavering faith. You will have to feel you are doing something for the party which will help it to be the kind of party you want it to be. Otherwise no one can help you to have faith in it. A party is made up of people and what they do for it.

 

It seems to me all our representatives to the United Nations so far (including yourself) have come from upper class, society backgrounds. Do you think this is desirable?

I think you are quite wrong. Many of our representatives on delegations have been self-made men or women, and the great majority have not had what you call "society backgrounds" at all. The amount of work required would make the average society person quite unable to cope with it because they have not had the discipline of work which is essential in order to be a good delegate

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About this document

If You Ask Me, August 1957

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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McCall's, volume 84, August 1957

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
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