If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

March 1958


Would you favor reinstating J. Robert Oppenheimer on the Atomic Energy Commission as some congressmen have been suggesting?

Certainly. He should never have been removed. It has done us much harm to lose his scientific brilliance in the service of the Government.


I heard you say that when you were young you felt "lost deep down inside yourself." This describes so well how I have felt so much of my own life. Could you tell me a little more about it and how you got over it?

I was lonely as a little girl, and later when I was a young married woman I was still extremely shy; but it was when I went to the White House and became a public figure that the feeling you mention began. It was often hard to recognize myself as a public figure, and this made me feel lost down inside. After a while I got accustomed to it and began to look objectively at the figure that had been created and to hope I could fulfill all that was expected of that figure.


How old were you when you had your first date with a boy?

When I was young, my dear, girls did not have dates with boys; and I have absolutely no recollection of any occasions of this kind until I came out in society at the age of eighteen and gradually got to know a great many young men and women.


I have been told many times that early in his last term your husband suffered a brain spasm or mild stroke. Is there any truth in this story?

None whatsoever as far as I know. No doctor ever told me anything of the kind, and I can't remember my husband having an illness which in any way resembled such a thing, so I doubt that there is any truth in this rumor which has been started lately.


Here is a question every woman I know is asking. How can we do everything our family and community demand of us and still find time to think and grow on our own?

I think the family needs come first when your children are growing up. What you can do for the community you do because it affects the life of your own family and the lives of the other families in the community; but this must come after personal family obligations are fulfilled. The thinking and growing on your own happen, I find, as you do things for others.


Would you be willing to tell us what you said in the thank-you note to Khrushchev after your Russian trip?

If I remember correctly, all I did was thank him for having given me his time for an interview and granting me a visa for visiting his country, which I found extremely interesting. I could look up a copy of the note, but it is filed away by now.


Elsa Maxwell claims she's met everybody socially important in this country. Have you met her; if so, how did you like her?

I have met her many times. I like Miss Maxwell very much. She has a real gift for giving parties, and I have always enjoyed her.


When you were asked recently on a television program how you felt about Walter Reuther as a possible Democratic nominee for President, you said you had not ever given it any thought. Now that you have had time to think, how does the suggestion strike you?

It strikes me as a good one. He is a highly intelligent man with a great knowledge of the world as a whole and a thorough understanding of the problems of our people and of other areas of the world. I do not feel, however, that these are the only qualifications needed to make a good President, and I would have to watch him for some time with this position in mind before making a decision.


I am thirteen and want to read a book about your husband that you think is good but isn't too hard. Can you tell me one?

There is one written by Lorena Hickok called The Story of Franklin D. Roosevelt (Grosset & Dunlap). I think you will find it well written and easy to read.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, March 1958

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

McCall's, volume 85, March 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
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