'Dynamic duo' a fixture in Huntington

200 Southdown Rd in Huntington remains unoccupied after 200 Southdown Rd in Huntington remains unoccupied after the May 28th incident where a woman crashed her Mercedes-Benz through the home of sisters, Helen Indiere and Virginia Bennert. (June 12, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Danielle Finkelstein

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Even a shiny red Mercedes-Benz barreling through their Huntington home as they slept late one May night couldn't slow down sisters Helen Indiere, 96, and Virginia Bennert, 94.

"We're doing fine," Indiere told Newsday Tuesday in her first public comments about the crash. "We're still here."

Indiere said the May 28 wreck, which destroyed much of her home, would not keep her and Bennert from moving back in. Both are staying with family.

"We've been displaced," Indiere said. "We're looking forward to going back home."

The siblings were thrust into the limelight after the crash, which happened when Sophia Anderson, 21, of Brooklyn, ran a stop sign and crashed her boyfriend's mother's red Mercedes convertible through the home at a high rate of speed, police said. The car ended up in the backyard. Anderson has been charged with driving while intoxicated and is out on bail.

But long before the crash, the sisters already were widely known around Huntington for doting on legions of customers at their Suburban Modes dress shop on Wall Street, which they owned for 41 years. As two of Huntington's most endearing characters, the sisters are still known for appearing around town with walking canes, fancy hairdos and bright smiles.

"They're the dynamic duo," said Indiere's granddaughter, Gina Angevine. "They're spry. They go shopping. Everyone calls them 'the girls.' They're amazing."

The crash reminded locals of a simpler time in Huntington, when the sisters "knew the dress sizes of nearly every woman in town" and "knew what would look best on you the minute you walked in," said longtime customer Maryann Marcus, 72.

"They were two of a kind, and no one knew style better than them," said Marcus. "They knew all their customers' names. And they knew exactly what you wanted before you knew you wanted it."

Their old dress shop at 221 Wall St. drew scores of loyal customers with its mix of high-fashion items and affordable, casual women's wear. It opened in 1958 and survived until 1999, records show.

"They don't make stores like that anymore," said Karen DiPaolo, 70. "I haven't found clothes that nice around here since they closed."

The sisters and their family are ingrained in the town's history, several residents said. Their father, George Scarpati, was a fire inspector at the Huntington Fire Department, where he worked from 1929 to 1963. Indiere's husband, James, was a sergeant with the Huntington Police Department before Suffolk County Police took over law enforcement there. The sisters also attended St. Patrick's School on Main Street.

"You can't be bigger Huntingtonians than them," Marcus said. "Everyone knows them and says hello when they're out and about. They're adorable."

The sisters said they are looking forward to a homecoming party once their devastated house is repaired -- complete with their favorite cake from Reinwald's Bakery.

"We'll be back," Indiere said.

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