If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

January 1958


My husband and I were terribly worried when we read you were ill in Russia. Have you any idea what caused it?

It is very kind of you to have been worried about me. My illness was of short duration—only twelve hours—and was nothing but irritation. The previous morning I had taken a plane at 7 A.M. from Tashkent to Samarkand and had got up at 5 A.M. to do so. In Samarkand I had visited a hospital for bone TB; seen the tomb of Tamerlane and many other sites of historic interest; lunched with the people who met us on arrival; and taken a plane back to Tashkent, where I arrived rather tired around 7 P.M. I thought I would have a free evening, but I had hardly reached my hotel when my guide announced that all of us were expected to go to the Minister of Culture's for dinner. We were appalled and at first I said that I could not possibly do so. They told me the dinner was prepared, the guests invited and I would have to go. I am afraid I was not as gracious as I might have been about it! I was really tired but I went, hoping to get away in about an hour, as I suggested. Instead I had to stay until nearly eleven o'clock. The table was laden with rich food, which I ate for politeness' sake. My two traveling companions were wise not to have come with me, for in the middle of the night I began to feel really sick and was still feeling so at 5 A.M., when we had to rise to take a jet plane back to Moscow. The plane was delayed, though we were at the airport on time. When I finally got into Moscow and learned that I was expected at the presentation of a painting of my husband by the Russian artist Gerasimov, I was simply too weary to attend. That, I am afraid, is how the news of my not feeling well became known. I was quite well by evening, however, and went with the Indian Ambassador to see an Indian film on which the Indians were cooperating with the Russians.


As one who really knows what's needed at the UN, would you mind telling me what qualifies the actress Irene Dunne to be a representative there?

I am sorry that I cannot answer your question. I don't know Miss Dunne and I do not appoint the representatives to the UN. You would have to ask the State Department, which is responsible for choosing the members of our delegation.


Did you ever have any threatening calls or letters connected with your children?

I had plenty of threatening letters. The calls, if they came, came to the White House switchboard and were not referred to me.


The Pope says that the Church loves widows more if they do not marry again. Do you feel there is any virtue in not remarrying?

No. I don't think so. It is a question of whether you happen to meet someone you really feel you can be happy with and who feels he can be happy with you. Certainly companionship that can exist between two older people will make a great difference in the inevitable loneliness of people who grow old; but remarriage is not undertaken lightly and it requires real conviction and confidence on both sides.


Do large groups of people in other countries chew gum or is this disgusting habit restricted only to the United States?

I am not sure that chewing gum is such a bad habit. It is good for the teeth, I think, and some dentists advocate it; but as far as I know we are the only country where chewing gum is a widespread custom.


I find it hard to imagine Khrushchev as a human being. Can you tell me any little things about him that seemed human or could you compare him with anyone you have ever met?

It is not at all difficult to recognize the human qualities in Mr. Khrushchev. When he mentions the fact that his son was killed in the war, you feel his real emotion, and when you hear he is bringing up his grandson or when you see him with his wife and daughter and son-in-law, you feel his great interest in his family. At the moment I can't think of anyone who seems to me very much like him, but his personality makes a vivid and strong impression on you. I surmise, of course, that under different conditions he can be ruthless. Undoubtedly I saw him at his best.


I am interested, since you do so much flying, in how often you take out insurance and how much before each plane trip.

I have never taken out insurance in my whole life on any of my flights.

< Previous Column 1958 Next Column >

About this document

If You Ask Me, January 1958

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

McCall's, volume 85, January 1958

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