If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

April 1959


Would you have allowed your dog Fala to be used as a passenger in one of the interplanetary rockets?

I cannot imagine that anyone would have wanted to use him; and I certainly would not have permitted it unless convinced that some real value to humanity would come of it.


Even though their demands may seem reasonable, what do you think of unions that cause great loss and inconvenience to the general public? For example, the sudden and previously unannounced subway strike in New York City just before Christmas a couple of years ago, and the strike that closed all the newspapers there just this last Christmas?

As a rule, I think strikes that cause great loss and inconvenience to the general public are a mistake. Sometimes it is the fault of both management and union leadership when they occur; or sometimes it is the fault of some group within management or within labor that does not have a broad enough outlook or sufficient understanding of the real issues which are at stake. It seems to me that both labor and management are hurt when the kind of strike you mention occurs.


Do you fly a flag at your house?

On certain occasions the flag is flown at my house in the country, but not all the time.


How many grandchildren and great-grandchildren do you have? Do you ever baby-sit with them?

I have nineteen grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren scattered all over the country. On one or two occasions I have stayed at home when I did not wish to leave children alone in the house, but this has rarely occurred. I don't call myself a good grandmother babysitter because I really don't live close enough to my children and grandchildren to be of much use when they need someone to baby-sit.


In your book you mention women's lack of equality in Oriental countries. Haven't you ever felt you were discriminated against because you were a woman?

Oh, yes, I am very conscious of the fact that women do not have complete equality even in the United States. I also am aware that many Oriental women think the customs and habits they have grown up with are preferable to the customs and habits of the West. Of course, in some ways there is no equality possible between the sexes except the equality of opportunity, which we in the West have made great strides toward achieving.


Does anyone call you by a nickname?

As a child I was sometimes called "Totty," and my father's pet name for me was "Little Nell"; but almost no one calls me by a nickname now. Occasionally a few very old friends call me "Lady"; but to most of my friends I'm afraid I am "Mrs. Roosevelt," and will remain so for the rest of my life. I would give much to inspire less respect and more sense of familiarity and warmth.


I have read that you and your neighbors in New York City hired a private guard to protect your homes from burglaries. Is the New York police force that bad?

The New York police force is very good, I believe, but it is impossible in a city this size to have enough policemen constantly on hand in concentrated areas. When I lived in an apartment on East 62nd Street, the association for the improvement of that small area asked if any residents wanted more constant supervision than could be provided by the city police force. If so, we were asked to pay a small sum each month for this service. Since I lived alone, I was extremely glad to have this extra protection.


I collect stamps and have one franked by Grace Coolidge. How can I get one franked by you?

By writing and asking for it, although I'm afraid that it is impossible for me to make a practice of answering everyone's request.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, April 1959

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

McCall's, volume 86, April 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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