If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

November 1957


Why have you never written a book about your husband?

Because it would require a lot of research and there are historians much better qualified than I am to write about his life and times.


Now that your lawyer son Franklin has stopped representing Trujillo, can you explain to me why he ever tied up with a dictator like that in the first place?

I did not know that my son had stopped representing the Dominican Republic. Although he was representing the government of a country which Mr. Trujillo may control to a very great extent, I don't think my son felt that he was representing one man. He was trying to see that the Dominican Republic in its dealing with this country and the individuals in this country got an honest deal, which is quite a proper thing for a lawyer to do.


Is it true that your husband had the following clause inserted in the deeds of 1928 and 1933 relating to tracts of land at Warm Springs: "Neither said land nor any part thereof shall be sold, rented or otherwise disposed of to any Negro or other persons of African descent or to a corporation or association owned or controlled by Negroes"?

No, he did not have the clause inserted. Such wording or similar wording had to be in any deed, according to the law of that part of Georgia. He told me at the time that he disliked the restriction, but there was no other way that a deed could be written in that area.


Doesn't it strike you that newspapers and magazines go in for much more sensation and cheap gossip today than they did when you and I were young?

I don't really know because I don't remember the newspapers very well when I was young. I am sure that they were restricted in many ways, and therefore could not have begun to carry the amount of material, either sensational or educational and newsworthy, that newspapers carry today.


To help settle an argument, would you mind telling me your exact height?

I used to be five feet eleven inches, but I think I am five feet ten inches now.


My daughter-in-law doesn't believe in reading fairy stories to her children because she says they are not "realistic." Have you ever had such a conviction?

No, and I think the children will miss a great deal if they never read fairy stories. Children live in a world of fantasy and if we try to take that away from them too young, I think they are the poorer for it.


I am doing my sixth-grade theme on famous people and their narrow escapes. Please tell me your narrowest escape.

I have been a very lucky person. I am not conscious of ever having had a narrow escape in my whole life.


There seems to be a trend now in public schools to start the day by saying the Lord's Prayer. Do you think this a proper thing to do, especially in classes that have children of other faiths?

The Lord's Prayer can be said by a great many children, and I see no reason why in a public school the day should not be started by saying the Lord's Prayer, as long as there is no compulsion on any child of another faith to take part in these exercises against his will.


Did President Roosevelt ever go on a diet?

Oh, yes! For years the doctors told him what he should eat and we attempted to give it to him. I do not know that we were always successful in keeping him on his diet, but we made valiant efforts.


Our history teacher says that anyone in American political life whose opinions influence large groups of people should have read the following books: The Theory of the Leisure Class, The Wealth of Nations, Das Kapital, The Age of Reason, The Decline of the West. Would you mind telling me which of these you have read and which you think your husband read?

My husband, I know, read Das Kapital. How many of the other books he read I have no idea. I have read The Age of Reason, Das Kapital and The Wealth of Nations.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, November 1957

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

McCall's, volume 85, November 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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