If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

March 1959


Do you believe Boris Pasternak, the author of Doctor Zhivago, can be sincere in his criticisms of Russia if he begged the Government to let him stay there?

Certainly he can. He loves his country and wants to live there. He does not want to leave the place where his friends and his family are. We criticize the United States, but we do not want to be put out of our country for doing so. I doubt that Mr. Pasternak realized how much furor his book would arouse outside Russia.


What do you spend a year on clothes?

The amount varies from year to year, but I think it is never more than $1,500 and very often it is less than $1,000.


Have you ever met Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower? If you have, I'd like to know how you hit it off.

Of course I have met Mrs. Eisenhower, but not since she entered the White House. Our meetings were purely social, and I have always liked Mrs. Eisenhower and found her a most agreeable, pleasant person. These casual meetings do not mean any degree of intimacy.


Do you think being a millionaire is a help or a hindrance in political life?

It is neither a help nor a hindrance. People pay very little attention to this particular factor. They look to see what a man does with his money.


Would you say your first impressions of people usually turn out to be accurate? What kind of people have made the poorest first impressions on you?

No. My first impressions as well as my judgments about people are not always accurate; I have been wrong many times. I am afraid that the people who make the poorest impression on me are those who consciously or unconsciously try to show their importance. None of us is really very important, so I am always more amused than impressed in such cases.


Did you write this new book On My Own yourself?

Yes. I do not think it could have been written by anyone else. I did have a great deal of help, however, in the form though not in the substance of the book, from Mr. Joe Alex Morris.


What do your great-grandchildren call you?

They call me Grandmère, just as their parents do, as a rule.


Don't you think a working mother should be allowed to deduct the salary of a housekeeper from her income tax?

Yes, I do. The working mother must have someone to stay with her children and to take the burden of the house from her shoulders. It is certainly a part of her business to have someone in her house to help her, so it would seem to me a legitimate deduction from her income tax.


How do you get out of accepting invitations you don't want to accept? Do you permit yourself white lies occasionally?

Usually I do not have to indulge in white lies, though I might permit myself to do so. I think it is simpler to say what is true—that I have reached the limit of the commitments which I can take. Otherwise I usually try to do what I have been asked to do.

< Previous Column 1959 Next Column >

About this document

If You Ask Me, March 1959

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

McCall's, volume 86, March 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