If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

January 1959


Is it true, as Fannie Hurst says in her autobiography, that while in the White House you did yoga exercise which involved standing on your head?

I am afraid that Miss Hurst has exaggerated slightly. I did, and still do, exercises every morning, but I did not know they were called yoga exercises. Certainly not for a long time have I attempted to stand on my head, though there was a time in my life when I could accomplish this feat!


Would you favor or oppose a national lottery?

I would oppose it.


I see that sixty-one million dollars is going to help school children learn foreign languages. Don't you think this money might be much better used to help end the teacher shortage?

I am very happy that sixty-one million dollars is going to be spent on the teaching of foreign languages. The teacher shortage itself should be taken care of, I feel, by a much better reorganization of our whole school program, with more emphasis on well-paid and well-respected teachers and possibly less emphasis on the magnificence of school buildings.


It's none of my business, but I read that you said you were giving up your New York apartment and I'm curious why.

There is no reason that you should not be curious. My rent was raised $150 a month and I did not think the apartment was worth it. I am temporarily in the Park Sheraton Hotel, where I stayed once before, and I hope that in a short time I will find a permanent place to live.


Can you think of any circumstances under which you would vote for an atheist for president?

I have found that very few people who say they are atheists really are, in the last analysis. I doubt very much, however, that I ever will have to make a decision about voting for an atheist; and I will wait until I come to that bridge before making a decision!


I know that you are a modest woman, but I would appreciate knowing what you believe is your own most important contribution here on earth.

I have not the remotest idea. What we ourselves believe in this matter is not important; but I suppose the greatest contribution any woman makes is her children.


Please, if you can, explain to me the reason for there being no legislation against segregation under any Democratic administration?

I think you are mistaken. I can remember in my husband's administration an F.E.P.C. law which was passed requiring fair-employment practices for people of all races. Also, under President Truman a commission was appointed to look into the whole situation of equality, and it made valuable recommendations for improving the conditions of minority groups. The matter of school segregation had not, of course, at that point reached the stage where the Supreme Court had been asked to hand down a decision.


At what age were your sons and your daughter first allowed to start having dates?

I think my boys in their last two years of boarding school had dates over the holidays. My daughter Anna was allowed to make dates from sixteen years on, but I believe that her dates were rather more carefully supervised than are those made by sixteen-year-old girls today.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, January 1959

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

McCall's, volume 86, January 1959

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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