Whilst writing my novel, there are a few Southend ‘Institutions’ that I keep revisiting and therefore so do my characters. The top of the pops has to be Rossi’s, my characters are often popping in for an ice cream whenever they like. I unfortunately have to rely on memories, it being around 9,442 miles away from where I currently reside.
You will never find ice cream as pure white as Rossi’s. There is something about the wind blowing in your face walking along Southend pier eating a Rossi’s. Having a grandad that was a ‘Seafront Trader’ he always had an industrial sized bucket of this snow-white heaven in his freezer. Nan would always serve it with wafers, for dessert, or as we knew it ‘afters’. I would sit in their dining room eating out of the china bowl, on my best behaviour, enjoying every silver spoonful slowly.
Spending the school summer holidays working in my granddad’s factory along the seafront was hot work, and occasionally on a Friday or an unusually hot summers day, out would come the Rossi’s ice cream. Whispers of a possible ‘Rossi’s’ would start presumably with the sugar boilers who had the hottest and heaviest work. News would then reach the girls sitting along the wrapping bench, always hot with gossip even on a cold day. Eventually news would reach us humble packers, ‘I think a Rossi’s is coming’. Served between two wafers in an ice cream sandwich, it didn’t really matter how it was served. When it was summer in the factory, anything to cool the hot-headed and hot handed was appreciated.
The trips I had to the inside of Rossi’s Restaurant were few and far between. One that I do remember was after Sunday School when my best friends parents had picked us up, down to the seafront we drove. My friend decided to have the Nickabockaglory, this huge mess that I couldn’t quite comprehend whilst I had a simple tub of lemon sorbet. My mouth watering with every spoonful.
My Dad would say, ‘Lets go for a Rossi’s shall we?’ on a Sunday after lunch with my other Nan. Although to be honest she was more of a Tomassi fan (which has apparently been in Southend for over 75 years!, Rossi just piping them to the post having been trading over 80 years), another ice cream parlour in Southend which I am sure I have been in but is obviously not one of my core memories.
Then there was the ice cream van at High School, Nancy obviously a real Rossi. My taste in ice cream had matured at this point as I would indulge in a ‘Popeye’, (ice cream in a cornet with an ice lolly dunked in the top). On the odd occasion that I hadn’t spent all my lunch money on cigarettes, chocolate or chips an extra special treat would be an Oyster, (two wafer shells filled with chocolate and desiccated coconut on the outside with ice cream and white marshmallow at the centre). Wow, maybe I should think about importing these to Australia! Obviously they do have Ice Cream but I have not yet found a Rossi’s!
My book Sharks & Lovers is available to download here: