Friday, April 14, 2006

From My "Old Favorites" Shelves


by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

This is the orginal story, the real story of the Gilbreth family.

If you have never read this book, you need to get it from your local library right away!  This is such a hilarious and sweet book.  It is written by two (the oldest boy and the third girl) of the children of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth who were both noted motion study and efficiency experts in the early 20th century.

Dad believes that he can run his dozen children just like a factory.   Mom has a little lighter touch, although she ends up backing up dad in almost everything.  The things that this family accomplished, learned and taught others are fantastic.  Real things happen to them; things that happen in every family, like when the oldest girl starts dating and she is plagued by the youngest siblings; like when she wants to wear makeup and have the newest hairstyles against dad's wishes.  Then there are the strange things that could only happen in this family; like everyone having their tonsils out at one time with dad filming the whole thing so he can see if the doctors are doing the procedure as efficiently as possible!!  The family was also instrumental in developing the "touch-type" method of typing.

Frank and Lillian were married in 1904 and did indeed have 12 children.  Frank was the pioneer of motion study and he and his wife became partners in the management consultant firm of Gilbreth, Inc.  Frank died young just before his 56th birthday in 1924, and his wife, ten years his junior, continued his work without him.  She eventually became even more well-known than her husband had been, making a name for herself not only in motion study but in workplace psychology and feminism.

The book is dedicated "To Dad, who only raised twelve children and To Mom, who raised twelve only children".  I think that is a neat dedication.  At the end of the book the two authors give us the best insight into their Dad's real personality.  They tell that someone once asked him what he wanted to save time for.  Their dad answered, "For work, if you love that best, for education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure."  Then he said, "For mumblety-peg, if that's where your heart lies."  I love that quote!

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN was first published in 1948 and became a bestseller almost immediately.  It was then made into a play and then a motion picture starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy in 1950.  The movie version that came out in 2003 I have not seen and cannot bring myself to see.  With something like this book, based on a real family who grew up in a very particular era (1904 to 1924), making it about a modern family just totally changes the whole thing. 

My personal copy of the book is a paperback containing the complete and unaltered text of the original hardcover edition and is published by Bantam Books. 

No comments: