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Mark Simonson

June 17, 2013

Otsego County woman drove her way to success


Among her regular customers were Leona Penner and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Maddalone, all of Schenevus. The Italian-American community seemed to treat Abbie in a most friendly way, as she had her first Italian dinner at the Peter Tessitore home in Schenevus.

“They wouldn’t take any food until I tasted it,” she said. “They waited to see if I liked it.”

In 1923 the Perrys moved to Franklin Street in Oneonta. Abbie left her business cards at the Chamber of Commerce and Oneonta Country Club. She established a good business and reputation as a driver. Some suggested that she teach people to drive. One day she spoke with Beatrice Blanding, daughter of Riley Warren, owner of the Oneonta Sales Co.

“Beatrice called me to ask if I was really serious about teaching,” she said. “I told her I was, and I worked full time for one year … and two more years part time. When they had a car to demonstrate or someone to teach they called me.”

Only once did Abbie come close to getting a ticket. She was employed in 1954 by Mrs. Thomas James, proprietor of The Coffee Shop in Morris, for a trip to Canada.

The women were talking and suddenly Abbie was flagged down by a Canadian speed patrolman while she was doing 75-80 m.p.h. (This was at a time when speeds were posted in miles per hour in Canada, as they were switched to kilometers in 1977.)

The dialogue was described by Abbie this way:

Patrolman—“Going some place?

Mrs. Perry—“I hope to get to Montreal.”

Patrolman—“In one piece?”

Mrs. Perry—“I hope so.”

Patrolman—“I could charge you $16 but my wife and I have a date tonight, and if I take you in I couldn’t make it. By the way, aren’t you a little old to be driving so fast?”

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Mark Simonson

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