NORTH KINGSTOWN — Bette passed away in December, but Audrey Agli’s 1993 Lincoln Town Car remains a testament
to her spirit.
Decorated with brown and white markings, Agli’s “Cow Car” is
adorned with such sayings as “Mooing Along” across the trunk, “Cow Cruzin’ ” along the front
fenders and “Bette Davis Eyes” under a graphic of a cow with big eyes across the hood.
it is topped by a hand-made fiberglass model of Bette herself.
“It’s her coloring,
with all the same spots,” said Agli, an energetic woman with glasses decorated in cow markings. She said her sister
gave her the Ayrshire cow 12 years ago after she had been sold off as a runt calf.
“Smith and Agli’s Potbelly Manor,” refers to the shelter farm for abused and abandoned animals that she
and her partner, Liz Smith, run at their home next to Paul Bailey’s Chrysler Jeep Dodge on Ten Rod Road. (Painted a
striking violet with a front yard decorated with hundreds of lobster pot buoys, the house stands out as much as the car.)
While Bette’s old barn now sits empty in the middle of the one-acre back yard, other barns
and enclosures contain ducks, turkeys, pigeons, goats and potbelly pigs that have all been rescued from inattentive or malicious
owners. Agli and Smith try to find homes for them but keep animals that have lingering behavioral problems.
Vietnamese potbelly pigs are the focus of their efforts because they are “throwaway animals,” according
to Smith, a reiki master and certified angel and tarot reader. Adorable as piglets, they are often abandoned when they grow
“People think they will stay a teacup and they don’t,” she said. She and
Agli said the farm had rescued as many as 60 potbelly pigs since they started rescuing animals in 1995.
Meanwhile, their most recent acquisition is Rose, a one-year-old Saint Bernard that had been found malnourished and
chained to a tree in Tennessee. Agli said they will keep her as a farm dog, adding that she and Smith have owned “seven
or eight Saints” over the years.
“They are throwaway animals,” said Smith,
explaining that Saint Bernards are often abandoned because they get so big and they drool.
said she got the idea of decorating her car to advertise the shelter farm about seven years ago. And although the farm mainly
rescues potbelly pigs, she chose Bette as the model.
“I wanted my car to look like Bette,”
she said. “She meant a lot to me.”
She subsequently painted her white 1983 Buick
LeSabre with brown markings, and her brother Donald attached a metal cow to a ski rack on the roof.
the car lasted only a couple of years and in 2005 she purchased the white 1993 Lincoln Town Car, which she had professionally
decorated. And she often seasonally dresses the fiberglass Bette in a witch’s hat at Halloween and a Santa Claus hat
at Christmas, according to Steve Joslin, who is a tenant and helps out on the farm. His assistant Matt Forest has adopted
a potbelly pig named Rachel.
Agli uses the Cow Car every day, including driving to her job as
a billing specialist in the Rhode Island Department of Accounts and Controls in Providence where it “makes the garage
by an inch.”
She is also a technical sergeant in the Rhode Island Air National Guard, after
active duty in the Air Force, and regularly serves at Westover Air Force Base in Springfield, Mass.
said the car attracts attention and even volunteers, although people will often try to offload their unwanted pets.
“I love this car, but I don’t hide well with it,” Agli said. “You don’t go anywhere
without people knowing.”
The car has driven in the July 4th Parade in Wickford and the
Columbus Day parade on Federal Hill, and was featured at the recent Rhode Island Pet Expo in Providence.
Meanwhile, Agli said she is the only driver. “No one else would drive this car. My son would rather walk,”
she said, referring to her son, Normand, a sergeant in the National Guard who is about to be deployed to Afghanistan.