Tuesday, June 20

Do my Irishmen come cheaper by the dozen?

I’ve discovered that part of the joy of rereading favorite childhood books based on real-life events is finding out more about the “true story.” What did Pa and Ma and Laura and Mary Ingalls really look like? The internet has made this kind of information much easier to find. Just do a Google image search and you’ll see that Pa really did have wild hair. (Ignore the Michael Landon pictures.)

Tonight I will finish Cheaper By the Dozen, another “based on a true story” book. My best friend Paula and I loved this story when we were growing up, so reading it makes me think of her. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth raise a family of 12 children, employing themselves as guinea pigs in motion study and efficiency. Mr. Gilbreth’s irrepressible sense of humor is unforgettable, and the book is still funny.

This time through, I realized just how intelligent and influential in the world of engineering both Mr. and Mrs. Gilbreth were. Google their names and you’ll find articles about their contributions to motion study. I get the idea that much of what we take for granted about how things work today is due to theirs and others work. That garbage can with a foot pedal, for example…

I found that Daniel Gilbreth, the fourth of the six sons, died at age 88 last week. Ernestine, Fred and Bob are the remaining three of The Dozen. The picture above shows them at The Shoe, their summer home in Nantucket, which was made from two lighthouses that were moved to flank another house.

I’ve been told that once you have three children, they take up all your time anyway, so why stop there?

1 comment:

paula said...

How very funny. I was just thinking about reading cheaper by the dozen this weekend! Do you have Bells on their Toes? I've always wanted to see the real family.