Thursday, November 09, 2006

Yes, Yes, Go Forth And Read This Book

A Fuse #8 Production reminded me that Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, one of the authors of Cheaper By The Dozen, has died, something that slipped through my consciousness when I heard it recently.

Yes, the book is wonderful. I read it when I was a teenager, and I read it again to my children.

Here is my feminist lecture: Though Frank Gilbreth is a towering figure in Cheaper By The Dozen, his wife, Lillian Moller Gilbreth, was a groundbreaker in the professional world, becoming one of the first women to work in the field of engineering.

Oh, and I've probably mentioned here before that my mother-in-law knew someone who married one of the Gilbreth children. Ruthie went to the wedding and met Lillian Gilbreth.

The Gilbreth parents were time-and-motion wonks, into workplace efficency. In the early part of the twentieth century, there was a lot of interest in their field. Cheaper By The Dozen is a sort of historical document, reflecting its era. At the end of it, Carey and Frank Gilbreth Jr. write:

"Someone once asked Dad: 'But what do you want to save time for? What are you going to do with it?'

"'For work, if you love that best,' said Dad. 'For education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure.' He looked over the top of his pince-nez. 'For mumblelty-peg, if that's where your heart lies.'"

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