If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

December 1958


Do you think it would be of any particular benefit to the country if President Eisenhower retired now in favor of Vice-President Nixon?

No. I don't think it would be. I do hear people say that even though they have been opposed to Mr. Nixon, they think the country would be better off having someone who would make decisions in a more prompt and clear-cut fashion. Since I don't have great confidence in the basis from which I feel Mr. Nixon would make his decisions, I'd rather see us try to get along for two more years—limping a little, perhaps, but trusting the fundamentally good intentions of the President.


Has the thought of suicide entered your mind at any period in your life? What kept you from doing it?

I doubt that any human being goes through life without at some time feeling it might be better if things came to an end, but almost always something tells you that this is an impossible solution. Usually suicide would harm other people or it would leave greater burdens on other people's shoulders. I doubt that I ever really seriously contemplated it, though I must admit that like everyone else I have had times when I thought it would be pleasant if I did not have to go on.


You say that your husband seldom lost his temper, but when he did, it was terrible. What sort of things did he do?

He froze completely and was like an icicle, out of reach of all of us, and it shook him for hours.


Why are you opposed to "right-to-work" legislation?

I am opposed to this legislation because it does not guarantee the "right to work," but gives the employer the right to exploit labor. While it is true that a great deal of labor is not unionized, much of it benefits from unionized labor's gains. If the "right-to-work" laws were passed, unionized labor would be so weakened that it could make no gains for any of its members or for those who are not members.


How were you able to teach, as you say you did earlier in your life, without any degree from a college or normal school?

I taught in a private school and I had my degree from a school in Europe. The headmistress where I taught felt that I had covered the necessary ground and could teach successfully. I found that in the subjects I chose it was easy to do so.


The girls in our algebra class would like to know if algebra ever helped your career in any way?

I can't say that algebra has ever particularly helped me, because what I have done has not been along lines where I needed to use it; but you can never tell when you will need certain kinds of knowledge. Algebra certainly helps in training the mind, so you shouldn't feel it is a waste of time.


Is it true that Russia made the first offer to stop nuclear tests?

As I remember it, the Russians did make the first suggestion, but we were worried because there was no way of being sure they would live up to their promises.


What one book would you say influenced your life most as a girl?

The Bible. Also, The Old Curiosity Shop, by Dickens. The last was important to me partly because my father used to call me "Little Nell," after one of the characters in that book.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, December 1958

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

McCall's, volume 86, December 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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Washington, DC