King Cone ends a Famous Ice Age
One of the last of the original ice cream makers is leaving Brighton. Giacinto De Marco, known as George to his friends, is getting ready for a life of leisure after years in a family business.
At one time, the De Marco family had shops in Eastbourne, Hastings, Dover and Brighton. When the York Place Brighton shop closes there will only be George’s cousins in Hastings to carry on the tradition.
The (first) Brighton shop opened in 1927 in St. James’ Street. Then it was an old style ice cream parlour - now it is more of a cafe. “When the customers knew that I was leaving some of them cried” said George aged 75. “I don’t quite know what I shall do with my time yet. Probably, I will be miserable for the first few months”
The De Marcos first came to England in 1880, but they never lost their links with Italy. George still travels back home to the little village of Picinisco, between Rome and Naples.
"So many people came to England from the village that there must be a De Marco in every English town." he said. "The Fortes of Brighton came from there, too. "When I go home there is no need to speak Italian. Everyone speaks English"
George's ties with both countries caused him problems in his younger years, He went back to Italy for a three month’s stay and ended up doing military service.
"The first three months I hated it," he said “But I hardened up and enjoyed It In the end." But problems really started with the Second World War. George's father was interned on the Isle of Man and his mother was forced to move from Hove where they lived to Redhill.
"We'd lived in England most of our lives and it was breaking my mother's heart . I was hounded out of my post as a senior ARP Warden but because of my dual nationality, I was still called up explained George.
He was sent to the Pioneer Corps, and even though he was spotted as officer material, he always refused to take rank. I thought I'd had a bad deal and I was determined to leave as I had Joined," he explained. George said that he could never fight the Italians and was posted to Swansea, Cardiff and Slough. The war over, he and wife Renee joined the family ice cream business.