Recently the Wall Street Journal ran a letter of mine about an encounter with the great and gracious lady in 1953. It was fun recalling that event, but even more fun was hearing from my friend Milt Moskowitz who shared a story of his own:
“In 1962 I was working at what was then the largest market research firm in the country, Alfred Politz Research, founded and run by an alcoholic German, Alfred Politz, who was a serial womanizer. Knowing my politics to be on the left side of the spectrum, he frequently berated me about liberals. And one of his prime examples was Eleanor Roosevelt, who had a syndicated column, My Day. She was a typical liberal, he said, afraid to come out for abortion rights for fear of irritating the Catholic church. “You don’t know that,” I said. I then wrote a letter to Eleanor, asking if she had the time for an interview. She replied that she did and soon I found myself having tea with her in her brownstone on the East Side of Manhattan. I told her what my boss had said, and then she said that she was a fervent supporter of abortion rights for women. When I returned to work, I relayed this information to Alfred, who scoffed, saying she would never go public with this support. Well, a week later, the “My Day” column carried Eleanor’s eloquent support for abortion rights. I bought a dozen copies of that edition and dumped them on Alfred’s desk. For one of the first times in his life, he was speechless. “I was delighted that he had brought it up since it enabled me to meet a gentle lady with a very strong spine.”
Mrs. Roosevelt’s “My Day” columns were among the first things I read in the morning papers; they were never timid. I don’t remember this one — having pushed the whole issue of abortion far down into the depths of my psyche — but I’m not surprised. Would that her calm, strong voice were here to speak today.