If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

November 1958


Do you have any special little family ceremonies for different holidays—toasts and things like that?

Yes. We always toast the United States first on any holiday like Thanksgiving or New Year's Eve; and we always, at any party which is a family gathering, toast those of our friends and family who are not with us but whom we remember on these occasions.


How do you justify the United States' move into Lebanon?

Under the circumstances I feel there was nothing else we could have done but move in. A government we had agreed to support asked for our reassurance. If we had not supported this country, we might well have lost the confidence of every country that relied on our promises. I feel strongly, however, that the circumstances which forced us to act as we did might never have existed if we had had a different policy in the Near East before the Suez crisis.


Have you taken any courses in your adult life? If so, could you tell me what they were and where you took them?

I have taken courses in Spanish and German from private teachers and at the Berlitz School.


If it is possible, I should like an unbiased comparison of the corruption in the Eisenhower and the Truman administrations.

An unbiased comparison is one I would hardly be able to make, since I have a bias! I will say that I think the corruption, comparatively speaking, has usually been on a less grand scale in Democratic administrations than in Republican ones. If you go back and review the record, beginning with General Grant's administration, I believe you will find this statement more or less accurate; but what is the real use of comparisons? Why not admit that the country needs to improve in this respect? We should stop worrying about whether we are Republicans or Democrats, and certainly not be self-righteous and accuse those in power. It is always awkward to find the shoe on the other foot.


Why do you wear such long fingernails and such red nail polish? As a young woman wouldn't you have thought it bad taste? Did your husband approve of nail polish?

It is true that when I was young nobody wore nail polish, but I don't consider it bad taste to wear moderately long nails or polish when this is the custom of the day. My own preference is for the lighter shades of polish. I cannot remember my husband ever making a remark about this custom.


Is it true that you consider it poor taste for a president of the United States to be photographed kissing his wife?

I happen not to like being photographed kissing anyone at any time and I always try to avoid it, but I really don't think it is any of my business to say if it is poor taste or not.


Our eighteen-year-old son has a unique chance to travel around the world with relatives and live in various countries for the next two years. This will mean entering college two years later than he should, if at all, and his father and I don't know what to decide. An opinion from you would help us a lot.

How about asking your eighteen-year-old son what he would like to do? Two years of travel is a good preparation for life in the present-day world. I myself would not like to consider this a substitute for college, but something which would make his college years more worthwhile. It is true that he will not have the companionship of his own age group, but if he is convinced that the travel will help him, he will certainly use it to good advantage. I feel strongly that the final decision should rest with him. At eighteen you are old enough to know what you want to do and where you want to go.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, November 1958

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

McCall's, volume 86, November 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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