If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

February 1959


If you had a little six-year-old daughter, can you honestly say, Mrs. Roosevelt, that you'd be happy to send her to a school in New York City that was 60 per cent Negro and Puerto Rican?

It would depend on whether or not the school in New York City was a good one. If it had good teachers and its standards were high, the fact that 60 per cent of the pupils were Negro and Puerto Rican would make no difference. Unfortunately, the schools in the areas primarily lived in by Negroes and Puerto Ricans do not always attain the highest standards. That is why a change in our housing patterns is extremely desirable.


Don't you find it shocking and depressing that a scandalous book like Lolita is on our best-seller list?

I am sorry to say I have not read Lolita. I have heard many things about the book, but I do not believe in censorship. No one is forced to read anything he does not want to read.


How often do you catch colds and what do you do about them?

I very rarely catch colds. Usually they come from being overweary. My doctor has some very remarkable pills which, if taken at the first sign of a head cold, are a good preventive.


What is your opinion of Governor Faubus of Arkansas?

I think Governor Faubus is a very ambitious man who unfortunately has forgotten the public interest in his private interest.


Would you tell me what you believe was the most memorable event you and your husband participated in while he was president?

Possibly the first inauguration was the most moving and exciting time for us both.


I have been collecting old hats for twenty years and would like one from a woman making present history. Could I buy one of yours?

I am very sorry but I cannot possibly sell one of my old hats. Usually I give them away. I cannot think they would add anything of beauty to your collection; there are many people who are making history from whom you could get a hat of greater beauty and interest.


I was surprised to see from a recent picture in McCall's that you and Westbrook Pegler once were quite friendly. Do you know what made him turn against you?

I have not the remotest idea. He did not turn against me particularly; he turned against my husband and the family in general. I have always thought it was because he was disappointed in not working for my husband in a position he would have enjoyed. Perhaps it also was partly because he did not like some of the things which happened to him during my husband's administration, and partly because it was lucrative to write the kind of column he was writing. I may be wrong, however, in all these suppositions, I am sure that he thinks all the wrong things which he attributes to us are true and that he has an obligation to state his beliefs.


Who would you most favor as Secretary of State under a Democratic administration?

Adlai Stevenson.


In his recent book James Byrnes paints a very unattractive picture of your husband. He says that FDR made repeated promises to support him for vice-president in 1944, and then without a hint of what was coming, went back on his word. Have you anything to say about this?

I was next to my husband when he was talking to Mr. Byrnes at the convention in Chicago. We were in a car in the railroad yards, and I know what went on in that conversation because I heard it. There were no accusations of double-crossing at that time.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, February 1959

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

McCall's, volume 86, February 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
Old Main Building, Suite 406
1951 F Street, NW
Washington, DC