The Surprising Successes of The Maas Twins (part three of three)


By the time war broke out the Maas had a string of parlours stretching from Barton Sands through to Dorchester in the east and Lymington in the west. They employed some 60 locals and the twins would be sure to turn up and chat with the customers and always roll up their sleeves and get stuck into the clearing of tables and, of course, the serving of ices. By now, the larger of the Maas parlours had also moved into serving tea alongside the cola and lemonades that accompanied the frozen desserts. Some of the properties were large fifty seater venues, whilst many were just welcome home kiosks dotted along the coast.

(text missing)

…somewhere along the coast at Charmouth – as unlikely as this seems! This stroke of luck enabled her to move to the Norfolk Broads, where she had an old auntie who had once been a singing star in London, but now lived on a pittance in Wrexham with several dozen cats.


{notes on war. First draft}

Sylvester-Ezra enlisted in early 1940 and within weeks had left the county on a train to London and from there he took a steamer to France. He was never seen or heard of again.

Ezra-Sylvester married a Penn Beacon girl called Sylvie Trott (b.1919 Penn Beacon. d.1969 Kreuzberg). She was willowy and blind in one eye. By 1942, he waved both her and the town goodbye from, by some neat twist of fate, the deck of the SS Burundi. His capacity aboard the 50,000 tonner this time was as chef. He was one of a team of six whose job it was to feed the crew of thirty-four merchant seamen. The Burundi sailed from Portslyn and from there was employed as a supply ship between America and England.

People often talk about  (the grey wolves….is this right?? Check this!!) the U-boat flotillas that hunted the Atlantic during those years, but Ezra-Sylvester never once was bothered by such dramas. He returned in ’44, demobbed, tied his apron back on and went back to the ice cream business as if he had just popped outside for a piss.  {urination?? pasty??!!}

[text both indistinct & missing here]

– business lost some of its custom after the war years. There was the ongoing problem with J. Jackson & Jackson (solicitors) to keep in mind. By this time his opium intake had reached outrageous proportions & he ran the business from his bath tub where he would soak hour after hour, dozing & drinking gin. Ever loyal, Roy, describes the state of affairs at the house as “Sad. Very, very sad. Very sad.” He, too, by that Christmas, would find himself out on the streets.

(text missing & unreadable in places due to heavy staining)

“…people still wanted ice cream. They would come in droves. ‘Everyone,’ he still proclaimed, ‘loves ice cream’. And, if Barton Sands was anything to go by, this will prove still to be the case. But, things were different. He was different!”

Michael Thompson (‘I Scream! You Scream! We All Scream For Ice Cream!’)

He took to living mostly in the garden shed. The roses, he said, reminded him of home. It was an odd thing to say really because  –

[text missing]


Sylvie gave birth to a son in the summer of 1948 and they decided to call him Sylvester-Sylvester, in memory of the lost twin. Sylvester-Sylvester grew up to be a red-faced and rubbery boy. He excelled at almost nothing during his schooling, but always remained popular with his classmates by dint of his good nature and generosity. There would always be a gaggle of boys noisily scoffing sundaes after school. The young Sylvester-Sylvester, as I say, was not a particularly promising student. Nothing found success with him. Nothing, that is, but one curious skill. Who knows where these blessings come from? Although he was, from an early age, quite a chubby child, he was, amazingly fleet of foot & became the County Junior School champion short distance runner (Gold). There is an intriguing photograph of him (copyright of The Barton Sands Gazette, June 1956) on a wall in the local history museum on Peter Street (It can be found in the corridor at the top of the stairs in the permanent exhibition called Barton Sands’). The photographer, one James Liddell, has positioned himself in the middle lane of the track, a few feet back from the finish line. The photograph captures the moment Sylvester-Sylvester, aged 8, bursts across the tickertape. His head of distinctive ink stain hair is thrust towards the lens, obliterating his face. His arms are thrown up in triumph and his legs are caught forever in a blur. The photograph is of particular interest to those who enjoy social history. The crowd of onlookers that border the photograph in an almost perfect bottleneck are all turned towards the winner, and so, towards the camera itself. In the expanse of faces, can be picked out, among the usual unfortunate twisted expressions, blurred features, forever-opened mouths and frozen, windblown hairstyles, is a pale and thin young boy’s face. He is stood next to a woman. She has hold of his left elbow. It is jerked up awkwardly towards and beyond his shoulder. She is shouting something into his ear. He ignores her. Or (and I’ve looked at this picture many times), he has not quite yet, in that moment, heard her. The words are on the air. He stares directly into the camera from some feet behind the finish line and, after the winner’s hair and arms and palms and the flailing trail of tickertape, the viewer’s eye is drawn directly into his. It is, and I hope this doesn’t sound too, oh, I don’t know, artsy, but it is as if both he is peering directly into the future. And, by the same token, you are connected to the past. There is a communication. He is Bryan Goss (later of 1980s ‘art-rock’ band, Dead Fox In Mid-Seventies).

wayne pirate party
Bryan Goss of Dead Fox In Mid-Seventies (1984)

How could such a rotund and ice cream fed fellow become a school champion ‘short distance’ (and, by this, it is meant, 100 and 200 yard distance) runner, let alone the 1956 Junior Gold Champion? It seems ridiculous. However, the secret to the young Sylvester-Sylvester’s surprising success was in his style of running. It was closer, in nature, to a skip than a run. He would lead with only the left leg, all the thrust coming from the right. Young kids can be seen doing this even these days. It is the classic approximation of ‘horsing around’. Credit, I suppose, must also be given to his PE teacher at the time –


(Mr. D. Biscuits of Barton Sand’s Junior Grammar d. 1969),

who, rather than discourage such a style, recognised the ‘genius’ behind it.


The church of Saint Giles is nestled one mile south of the village of Weston, Penn Beacon. There has been a church dedicated to Giles on this site since 1135AD. Sylvester-Sylvester’s gravestone can be found in the quiet west garden at the rear. The Penn Beacon quarried headstone reads, simply –

Sylvester-Sylvester Maas.

Son. Brother. Husband. Lover of Ice Cream.

September 20th 1910- August 30th 1976.

black and white donkey head on a grey wooden fence nearby green grass field
Dear Fonzi (In some ways Sylvester-Anthony was never to get over the loss. He carried a crumpled photograph of ‘dear Fonzi’ with him wherever he went. The Almsbury Sanctuary For Poorly Ponies & Donkeys would receive an annual allowance of £1000 & continues to do so to this very day)*

*Donations are welcome to the Almsbury Sanctuary For Poorly Ponies & Donkeys.

3 thoughts on “The Surprising Successes of The Maas Twins (part three of three)

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