If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

October 1958


For the good of this country, wouldn't you consider running for president on the Democratic ticket? I don't think age is so important in a person with your vitality.

No. It would not be for the good of this country. It is not only a question of age. Women have not yet held enough important positions, whether elected or appointed, to attract a sufficient following for one to win the Presidency of the United States. It will be years, I think, before a woman should be elected, though I hope that eventually this will be done—not because the candidate is a woman, but because she is the person best fitted to hold the job, no matter which party she belongs to.


Isn't the Russian system of education really just a copy of the kind of education that you find in a good many European countries?

Yes, it is patterned on the French and German educational systems.


When you were First Lady, did you ever accept any personal gifts from people in business or industry?

Certainly. In the White House gifts are sent to the President and his wife in great numbers, both from individuals and from firms. We learned, however, that things sent in originally as gifts often turned out to be things people wanted to be paid for when they fell upon hard times. Therefore we set up a closet in the basement in which all "gifts" were stored by months.

If we could not graciously return them on arrival (and this cannot always be done), we would hold them for a year or so. If the donor asked for payment, we would return the gift and suggest that he try to sell it.


Can you honestly say that you'd have no qualms at all about electing a Catholic president of this country?

I would have no qualms if his record showed that his judgment in matters of government was in no way controlled by his religious advisers. Otherwise I would have a real concern because the separation of Church and State in this country is a doctrine in which I believe.


Do you have any close personal friends, people you see a lot of, who are Negroes?

I don't see a great deal of many people. In fact, I can think of only two couples outside of my own children whom I see constantly, so I cannot say that I have that kind of intimacy with any Negro friends; but I have some warm personal friends whom I do see fairly often who are Negroes.


So many women I know have lost their husbands. We do all the things people say—work, read, keep busy—but nothing ever seems to fill up the loneliness. Could you tell me where you find the strength for living alone?

I'm afraid I can offer you only familiar advice. Try not to be alone too much. On the other hand, force yourself to accept the fact that you can be alone and enjoy it occasionally. Playing records is a good thing to do if you feel lonely. Rejecting self-pity, thinking of other people and finding interesting things to do in the time you are alone will make this period of self-discipline pass more quickly. Once you have acquired the ability to face the feeling of loneliness, you will not find it so difficult.


Do you keep a diary? If so, what do you plan to do with it?

No. I keep a date book in which everything I do is written down, but no thoughts and feelings such as might go into a diary are recorded. My date books are all kept in the Memorial Library at Hyde Park with my other papers.


How much do you blame "progressive education" for the poor level of students in this country?

I do not blame progressive education at all. Progressive education, properly used and understood, should have helped us and not brought about a lower standard of learning for our students. Our present low standards, I feel, are due to indifference on the part of older people and to the general attitude that education is a right rather than a privilege calling for real responsibility.


Are you on a diet at the present time?

I am never actually on a diet that has been prescribed for me. I simply try not to eat too much, as it is very easy at my age to put on weight. I have to watch myself very carefully.

< Previous Column 1958 Next Column >

About this document

If You Ask Me, October 1958

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

McCall's, volume 86, October 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