In 1911 the census form was completed by the residents of a property and later checked by an enumerator. Interestingly the form for 4 Ivory Court was completed and signed by Albert’s elder brother, Joseph Sambucci, who didn’t live there. Joseph’s postal address beneath his signature isn’t clear. It looks like he wrote 2 Ivory Court and changed the “2” to a “4”. However, he was actually living close by at No 1. Ivory Court. Why did Joseph fill in the form? Perhaps his parents weren’t literate or maybe their command of English wasn’t good enough and they required their eldest son to complete the form for them.
However, another strange feature of the 1911 census form is that Loreto’s name was crossed out in red by the enumerator and he was not included in the totals at the bottom of the form. This suggests that he wasn’t actually living on the premises and that maybe he had been included by mistake. Florrie was listed – again in red ink – as head of the family.
In fact the reason why Joseph completed the Census form for his mother and the explanation for Loreto’s absence is rather a startling one and can be found in London Daily News of March 25th 1911. The paper reported that Loreto had been charged with being drunk while in possession of a loaded revolver and he was sentenced to one month imprisonment. As the deadline for the Census return was 2nd April 1911, he would have been in prison when the Census was taken, which is why the enumerator would have crossed out his name.
In 1911 Joseph Sambucci (24) is living at 1 Ivory Court with his wife Blanche (22) and baby daughter Margareta (3 months) Joseph was born in Brighton & Blanche came from Middlesborough. They had been married for 2 years with the one child in 1911. Joseph is listed as an employer & his business is Ice Cream Manufacturer – run from home. Blanche is a boarding house waitress.
Ivory Court was off Ivory Place, which runs parallel to Grand Parade between Morley Street and Richmond Parade. This area of Brighton was a slum area and the courts often contained the worst housing in the town.
In 1912 Albert married Virginia Panetta, from Lewes. Virginia was born in about 1895 in Italy but was now resident in the UK. She lived at 3 Malling Street with her Mother Maria Panetta, who was 40 years old in 1911 and head of the family. Virgina had a sister Emilia, who was 13 in 1911 and a brother Eugenie, who was 7; both of them went to school. Also living at the house was 61 year old Benedette Panetta, who is described as a general servant and domestic worker.
Interestingly Emilia was born in Dundee and Eugenie in Broughty Ferry (a suburb in Dundee), so the Panetta family must have moved down from Scotland in the previous 6-7 years. On the 1911 Census Maria and Virginia’s occupations were shown as “assisting in business”. Maria was also described as “employer” and the 1911 Kelly’s Sussex Street Directory lists her as a confectioner.
When Virginia married Albert she was 17 years old and he was 19 or 20. From Albert’s War Record it looks like they set up house at 3 Ivory Buildings, round the corner from his home in Ivory Court.
The Sambucci Family – Ice Cream Vendors
“The penny capitalistsThe opportunities offered by the holiday industry also encouraged a proliferation of small and miniature businesses, the ‘penny capitalism’ that flourishes in this kind of setting.There was endless contemporary comment, in tones ranging from affection to exasperation, on the impossibility of promenading on the sea front or spending time on the beach without being serenaded by street singers or ‘German’ brass bands, snapped by itinerant photographers, accosted by organ-grinders with monkeys, invited to partake of fruit, sweets, gingerbread, shellfish or ice cream, or urged to offer a copper or two to a puppet or performing animal show. Boatmen, music-hall shows, lodgings and cheap restaurants touted for custom, and it was sometimes physically difficult to find a way through the importunate throng.”
The introduction of the ice cream machine
Carlo Gatti and the Italian Ice Cream Trade in 19th Century London
Carlo Gatti is credited with being one of the first to offer ice cream for sale in the streets of London. Carlo Gatti employed his fellow countrymen to take his ice cream around London streets in insulated barrows. They offered small sample of the ice cream wrapped in waxed paper by calling out “Ecco un poco“, which roughly means “Try a little“. The Italian phrase “ecco un poco” sounded something like “hokey pokey” to London ears and the ice cream vendors became known as “Hokey Pokey” men. The ice cream itself gained the nickname “Hokey Pokey“. A photograph taken near the Free Shelter Hallon Brighton’s seafront around 1910 shows a woman holding a child and offering ice cream from a barrow. On the sides of the barrow are painted the words “Pure Ices” and “Hokey Pokey” ice cream.
Before the introduction of edible cones in the late 1880s, ice cream was served from the barrow in a small glass cup called a “penny lick”. The purchaser of the ice cream would lick the ice cream from the glass and return it to the vendor. The glass would be wiped clean with a piece of cloth and then filled with ice cream for the next customer. Customers who did not want to eat the ice cream standing at the barrow could take the ice cream away after having it wrapped in waxed paper.
Carlo Gatti and Battista Bolla invited their relatives and other Swiss-Italians to join their thriving catering businesses in London. Hundreds of Swiss-Italians emigrated from Ticinoto London in the second half of the nineteenth century. Ticino had a growing population but only a small amount of good farming land. Unemployment was high and during the series of poor harvests between 1847 and 1854, a large number of Ticinesi left their nativeSwitzerland for other European countries and North America. [The local council in Ticino actually paid a lump sum (equal to six months’ wages) to working men in order to encourage them to leave Ticino].
The prospect of finding paid work in the Swiss-Italian cafes an restaurants that were springing up in London, encouraged a further exodus of emigrants from Ticino in the latter half of the nineteenth century. By the late 1870s and early 1880s, Swiss-Italians who had found work as waiters, barmen, pastry cooks and confectioners in London migrated to expanding seaside towns such as Brighton.
Alberto in France
“His letters speak of the cold and lice-ridden blankets. He also mentioned being made a bomber and trench raids. He said on one occasion it took him 2.5 hours to cover 120 yards from no mans land back to his trench. His last letter written just two days before his death said he was in the pink and hopeful of some leave. On the day that he was killed the Battalion diary states that three other ranks were killed when Sap15 was blown in, then an hour later two other ranks were shot by sniper fire, so we do not know the circumstances of his last moments.”
Written account by Alberto’s grand daughter as published on: ‘The Wartime Memories Project – The Great War’