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‘Pretty Plumber’ Pen Pal of 250 Men

Thursday, May 24, 1951

Lillian Pen Pal

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By Brian Bell, Jr.

Lillian Ann Baumbach, 21-year-old miss from
Arlington, VA and the country’s first woman
master plumber, has become the pen-pal of more
than 250 men in the United States and overseas.

Pretty Lillian first hit the news in February with
news of her entrance into a previously masculine
profession. Since then the mail has been
coming in batches.

The wire services spread Lillian’s fame-with
picture-to the far corners of the glove, and she’s
been receiving letters from every section of the
United States, Alaska, Australia, German, Korea
and France.

Arlington’s post office knows Miss Baumbach’s
address without hesitating and the mail’s still
pouting in. The letter carriers have even
delivered envelopes addressed simply “The
pretty Plumber.”

Calm About Rise to Fame.

In addition to here voluminous correspondence,
Lillian has been on two local television shows, a
New York TV program and a radio broadcast;
has written a magazine article (Helpful
Plumbing Hints for Housewives); has been a
cover girl for a national plumbing magazine and
has received gifts-including a light-weight
wrench-from manufacturers in her trade.

Lillian, who sticks close to the service
manager’s desk as her father’s plumbing
business, 4147 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington,
and leaves the heavier work to the men, is
taking her sudden rise to fame calmly.

I’ve had a lot of fun with all these letters,” she
said, leafing through the many envelopes, “but
Dad doesn’t seem to be impressed.

“I had to get my cousin (Virginia Smith) to help
me answer all the letters. And we’re just about
caught up with the latest batch.”

Lillian’s favorite letter was from a soldier in
Korea, who complained the radiator in his tank
leaked and wanted advice. Lillian may have her
master plumber’s certificate, but her answer was
strictly feminine: “Patch it with a bobby pin and
some well-chewed gum.”

Rations Her Photos.

Almost all the letter-writers have asked for
pictures of the attractive plumber, but Lillian
has been rationing her photos with care. She’s
also passed up some interesting invitations - a
week end at the Naval Academy, a television
show in Chicago and numerous dinner dates.

Her overseas mail - 75 letters from Korea
alone-has included election as pin-up girl for an
infantry company, complaints from an
Australian soldier that it’s too far from Brisbane
to Arlington and a photograph request from a
Netherlands soldier in Korea.

Other interesting correspondence has been from
a lady in Colorado, who thought they were
related; an ex-high school classmate in
Anchorage, Alaska, a soldier in a plumbing
school at Fort Belvoir, a sailor in San Diego,
Calif., who wanted her opinion-and got it-on
what type of heating unit to use in his house and
an offer from a Sarasota (Fla.) real estate man to
sell her a good site for a plumbing company.

Lillian refused an offer from a Grantville (Pa.)
boy to become her plumber’s assistant.

Miss Baumbach’s social invitations have not
been restricted to the mails. An Arlington
woman telephoned Lillian’s father to propose a
match between her son and the pretty plumber,
but that was quickly vetoed.

The saddest letter Lillian received was from a
man in Pennsylvania, who had sent her an
earlier series of letters. His latest message was
that he had found the “one girl in the world for
him” and he hoped Lillian would understand if
they stopped corresponding. Lillian understood.

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