Beth Cline finds that plumbing is perfect way to tune her...


May 12, 1991|By Mary Corey

Beth Cline finds that plumbing is perfect way to tune her 0) pipes

Beth Cline can still see the newspaper ad: All boys interested in plumbing apprenticeship, please contact . . .

Dissatisfied with her teaching job and eager for a new challenge, she decided to turn in her chalkboard for the chance to work a wrench.

Fourteen years later, as one of only two female plumbers working on the new stadium, she's proved that any job a boy can do, a woman can do at least as well.

Now if only the public agreed. Instead, she finds plenty of raised eyebrows when people discover how she earns her living, she says. "People stop and say, 'You said you were a what?' " says Ms. Cline, who's thirtysomething and lives in Maryland Line.

Plumbing, however, only pays the bills for her real passion: singing. Recently, her two worlds collided when she sang the National Anthem during Maryland Stadium Authority Construction Workers Night at Memorial Stadium. Since then, friends have begun calling her "the Singing Plumber."

"I was surprised at how nervous I wasn't," she says of her debut. "I remember turning to my boyfriend during the second inning and saying, 'Gee, that was fun. I want to go out and do it again.' When Paul Harris reads storybook after storybook to his 3-year-old son Grayson, he's keenly aware that many other parents can't do the same.

As director of the Ripken Learning Center, he sees them every day -- adults valiantly struggling to raise children and pay bills despite not being able to read. A year and a half ago, he signed on to oversee the center created through a donation by Oriole star Cal Ripken Jr. and his wife Kelly.

Mr. Harris modestly describes his contributions, which include creating a program serving more than 100 clients.

"The work isn't about people like me. It's about the people who have the guts to walk into a place like this and make some changes," says Mr. Harris, 31, who lives in Baltimore.

In many ways, he was a natural for the job. Since graduating

from the Maryland Institute in 1982, he's worked for the Maryland Food Committee and The Baltimore Sun.

"There's a lot of injustice happening in a country where there shouldn't be injustice," he says. "I feel I need to do something about it."

Have someone to suggest? Write Mary Corey, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or call (301) 332-6156.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.