PERRY BY THE BRIDGE
In 1817, Captain Robert Perry, a very successful business man who had come from Pennsylvania to Louisiana, contracted to build a bridge across the Vermilion Bayou on property he owned near his tanyard. At first, the settlement was called Pont Perry (or Perry's Bridge), and became the main commercial center of the bayou. The bridge must have been heavily trafficked by cattle drives, because it needed frequent repairs.
In 1844, Daniel O'Bryan, Robert Perry's son-in-law, sponsored a bill in the Louisiana Legislature that created Vermilion Parish and made Robert Perry the parish's first sheriff. Robert Perry would have liked to have Perry's Bridge named the parish seat, and I understand he had even had built a large white house near the bridge to serve as the courthouse. But the town of Abbeville, founded by Pere Megret in 1945, had quickly outgrown Perry's Bridge, and was chosen to be the parish seat. The name was changed to just "Perry" and it has remained a small, close community with a big, warm heart. That is the Perry we know today.
In the early 1930s, if you traveled from Abbeville to Perry, you would have found on your right, just before you reached the bridge, Mr. Elie LeBlanc's place. Upon crossing the bridge, you would have seen on your right the small house where the bridge tender and his wife lived. They had some of their grandchildren living with them and the wife treated for warts. On the left you would have seen the large building that I was told had been built to serve as the courthouse. It was occupied by a Nugier family. And then you would have come to a sharp right turn in the road. If you'd failed to negotiate that turn, you'd have run smack dab into the postoffice! (Not to worry, though, I never heard that any one did.)
The little house that was used as the postoffice then was, I think, owned by the Mills family. It had a front porch and at least two rooms, the front one serving as the postoffice. I believe it was Miss Daisy Stansbury who was the postmistress then, and there were several other women who helped her thoughout the years she served in that capacity.
Mail was brought twice a day from Abbeville during the week, and once on Saturday. The postoffice did not stay open all day, as it does now, but only until everyone had collected their mail. There were always people waiting on the porch for Miss Daisy to sort the mail before she opened the door to serve the patrons. This was not time wasted, but time spent visiting with friends, catching up on the news of the town and countryside, and occasionally one of the young ladies got invited by one of the young fellows, to the weekend dance at Sorbet's Dance Hall.
Miss Daisy was a nice lady, and if a sudden shower came up or it was very cold, she let the younger children go into the little back room to play. There were stacks and piles of old books and magazines and catalogs. I have always loved to read, and this was almost like a little library. Once she gave me a mail order catalog - can't remember if it was Montgomery Ward's or Spiegel's - and I took it home to Mom and Dee. We had a great time looking through it and laughing at the prices listed. I don't know what ever happened to it, but I suspect it probably went the way of all the other catalogs at my house.
After I moved from Perry, while Miss Daisy was still postmistress in Perry, the postoffice was moved to Mr. Joe Mouton's store, until finally, a new building was put up by the U. S. Postal Service. Perry still has a postmistress, though. Her name is Judy and she is the daughter of Paul Landry, who used to date my sister Dee.
Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA
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