Who Really Was “The Pretty Plumber?”
There comes a revolutionary pioneer at some time in every profession. For the plumbing industry, it was Lillian Baumbach. She was way ahead of her time. When plumbing was even more male-dominated than it is now, a woman becoming a master plumber was not just unlikely but nearly impossible. She was a fascinating woman who captured people’s imaginations from all around the world.
People still honor her today, as well they should! She still shines a light for women not just in the plumbing industry but everywhere.
How She Became the First Female Master Plumber
Lillian Baumbach got into plumbing thanks to her father. His name was William J. Baumbach, and he ran the William J. Baumbach Plumbing and Heating company in Arlington, VA. She took an interest in plumbing from a young age and would often help her father on service calls. Before long, Lillian’s father trusted her around the company without supervision.
By the time she was 21, she was the service master of her father’s company. Before she turned 22, she had taken the master plumber’s exam and passed with flying colors. The year was 1951. According to reports, Lillian took the test with 6 men, only two of whom passed. She would attend classes taught by her father at the local high school. The class was all about preparing people for becoming master plumbers. She was the first female master plumber not only in the Arlington area but the entire country!
Letters From Around the World
Since she was a first, it’s no surprise that the news organizations got ahold of Lillian Baumbach and her unique story. Soon, she was a bit of a celebrity around the country. A now-famous picture of her holding a large pipe wrench captured many people’s imagination. After all, at the time, the labor-intensive plumbing trade was male-dominated. It also helped that Lillian was a very pretty young woman. Before too long, letters started pouring in from around the world.
As the story goes, some letters were simply addressed to “The Pretty Plumber.” They contained plumbing questions, flattery, and even marriage proposals. The Korean War was underway at the time, and one infantry company designated her as their official pinup girl. She received at least 75 letters from American soldiers in Korea, and it’s been said that she kept correspondence with over 200 men from around the world.
Lillian Baumbach’s Legacy
More women-owned plumbing companies are popping up around the world. It’s rare for a woman plumber, or even a man plumber for that matter, to not know Lillian Baumbach’s name. She was way ahead of her time and paved the way for other women to break into the business.
Still, even today, it’s fairly rare for a woman to show up on a service call, but the number is rising. So, although Lillian Baumbach was the first female master plumber, there are plenty of women who deserve credit for breaking into the plumbing business and doing what they’re passionate about.
About Clean Flo Sewer & Drain
The friendly people at Clean Flo Sewer & Drain have been serving the residents of Anderson, SC for years. Their techs are punctual, professional, and friendly. They offer up-front pricing and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Call now for professional plumbing service!