Being Neighborly


 Remember:  They didn’t know it was a depression yet.


For long time readers here at MTTD you may remember my 93 year old neighbors, Floyd & Betty. I featured them in a MTTD post last fall ( Autumn Fun ) when I shared some homemade apple sauce with them.

 Over the years I have been lucky as I have had many great neighbors during my lifetime. But I have to say that Floyd and Betty are the best I have ever had. It is a pleasure being neighborly with them.

Floyd and Betty and I go to lunch together nearly every Saturday. It is a time to laugh and share and commiserate on days past as well as the present.

One day Floyd was sharing his recollections of growing up on a farm in the early 1900’s with me. I was mesmerized and told him he ought to write his stories down for posterity; that many people would be interested in what life was like 100 years ago.

Well, he took me up on my suggestion. What started out as just a few stories of life on the farm has blossomed into over 100 pages of typed stories. What started out as just some memories of  life on a farm has turned into a family history for his children and grandchildren.

Betty never ceases to thank me and tell me how happy she is that Floyd is doing all this writing because it occupies him and lets her get her household chores done.

So this is a win-win for everyone concerned.

One day at lunch recently Floyd was telling me about a type of custard he ate as a child called a Float. He also told me about Coffee Soup that everyone over the age of six ate.  I suggested he write about these foods and that I could use it in my blog.

So following is an excerpt from Floyd’s recollections.

I and my brother Neil used to stay with Uncle John and his wife Aunt Grace some times. They had eight children. I remember my very first meal there. I was about 12 or 13 years old. That would have been around 1930 or 1931. These were the Depression years. With my brother and I and Uncle John’s and Aunt Grace’s children there were ten children plus two adults.

They had a large table in the dining room and at one end there was a seat that dropped from the wall to support two more kids. Uncle John sat at the head of the table and the rest of us spread out among the remaining seats. Since in my family it was just me, my brother and my mom and dad I had never seen anything like this before. My first thought was maybe I better not eat very much because there may not be enough food to go around.

Aunt Grace and her eldest daughter, Mildred started bringing the breakfast plates of food from the kitchen. They handed the first plate to Uncle John who took some eggs and then passed the plate on to one of the children who took some eggs and also put some on my plate. I remember one of the children toward the end of the table saying, “Hey! Save some for me.”  I was beginning to feel guilty about being there. But my cousin Lloyd spoke up and said, “There is plenty for everyone.” And you know what! There was.

Aunt Grace used to fry a large skillet of potatoes and onions, which was my favorite then and still is. I also remember they always had lots of bread too.

Coffee Soup

It was there, at Uncle John’s table that I was introduced to a new dish, Coffee Soup

Maybe some of the old timers remember it.  Everyone in Uncle Johns household drank coffee except for the ones under six.

It was served by placing a slice of bread on your plate, sprinkling sugar over the bread, and then pouring coffee with cream over the bread. It was another way of getting bulk into your diet. We cut the bread into bite size pieces and ate them.


Uncle John and Aunt Grace also made a dessert, called Float. It was a pudding of some sort. And why they called it Float I don’t know.

It was made with milk, eggs, sugar and flour for thickening. I don’t know the amount of each ingredient and neither I nor my cousin could remember. I always wondered why they used flour instead of cornstarch.

The End
Readers Help

If any of you have ever heard of, or if your parents or grandparents ever heard of or know about either Coffee Soup or Float, both Floyd and I would love to hear about it. Tell us in the Comments Section below.

I did an internet search. I could find nothing on Coffee Soup. I did find two recipes for Float. Floyd said they sound similar to what he ate as a child.

I am providing links to the two Float recipes below.

Other Depression Era Recipes

Please also share any other Depression Era recipes you know about. 

I know about Aunt Clara, who is a national treasure. I haven’t seen anything new from her in about a year though. Link to:  Aunt Clara’s Blog , in case you have never heard of or seen her. She is a treasure trove of stories and recipes from the Great Depression.

Featured Recipe    Float

The only recipes I could find with the word Float in them also floated a meringue on top of the custard, thus the name float. Floyd did not remember anything like that. Maybe during the Depression that part was left out and just the cream or custard was made and eaten.

If anyone has another piece of the puzzle please do tell us all.

Floating Island Recipe from


2 cups milk

3 eggs

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 to 8 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Follow directions for soft custard, using two egg-yolks and one whole egg.

Cool and turn the custard into a glass dish or into custard cups.

Beat the two egg whites until stiff and beat into them two to four tablespoons of fine granulated or powdered sugar.

Drop this meringue by spoonfuls on the custard and chill thoroughly.

A candied cherry or a small bit of red jelly placed on each spoonful of meringue adds to the attractive appearance of the dish.

The Recipe Link also had a very similar recipe for a Float.

Bon appétit!!!


Headline of the Day

REMEMBER: In 1930, They Didn’t Know It Was “The Great Depression” Yet

Business Insider: August 11, 2010

Print Friendly

13 comments to Being Neighborly

  • My husband’s grandparents have shared many stories with us from that era. I will ask them about Float and Coffee Soup. Great post! What a treasure of stories Floyd is sharing. How lucky his family!

  • A true treasure indeed. Thank you for sharing. My Grandmother used to tell me stories from the depression era – tough times. It was definitely a time that shaped the rest of her life and she would impart lessons on her Grandkids through storytelling. When she baked pies, she would say “never waste” as she flattened the scraps leftover from her pie dough, sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon and bake it . Once it came out of the oven we would eat this tasty little treat with a splash of milk and squeal in delight!

    Thank you for sharing your post 🙂 It generated some fond memories of my Grandmother who I miss dearly and reflect upon happily.

    • Roberta

      My parents were like your garndmother, always telling stories about the depression, chief among them: never waste. I’m glad reading this post brought back such happy memoroes. 🙂

  • Ivy

    Please tell Floyd and Betty that I loved reading his stories! I have never heard of Coffee Soup or Float either, but they sound yummy! Also, I always eat my fried potatoes with onions. That is one of my favorite ways to eat them! I also put a little garlic in there as well. And sometimes bits of ham or smoked sausage and that’s the whole meal in one skillet. I love one-skillet wonders like that. Anyway, Floyd and Betty sound delightful and I am tickled to read about them!

  • Christine

    What a lovely and kind couple! They don’t look their age. I think they are very lucky to have good neighbors, like you, who keep them young!
    Very interesting sweets of that old time but I cannot help with the coffee soup. Must have an interesting story behind…
    In France we also have this recipe called ” ile flottante” floating island . The poached whisked egg whites look like islets and it is beautiful. The egg whites are bland and light and combine well with the sweetness of the custard. Long time I did not have it! Hope you will find info on these 2 sweets!

  • Floyd

    We are so thankful for being lucky enough to live next door to Roberta. Roberta
    didn’t mention this but she came to to see visit Betty when she was recovering
    fron Knee surgery and brought her a beautiful little rose bush. After she
    returned home she said lets plant the rose bush and name it Roberta’s Rose.
    That was a year ago,and today it is 3 feet tall and covered with beautiful
    little pinkish red roses. Roberta is the best Neighbor we have ever had and
    we have had some good ones over the years. Betty and I are also very lucky to
    haved lived this long and had good health and Friends.

  • Great stories. Floyd’s family is lucky he is putting them down on paper so they will be preserved and shared with generations to come. Everyone else is lucky that you are sharing them on your blog! I really want to try Coffee Soup. It sounds a little odd, but the name is great. Coffee Soup.

    • Roberta

      I agree with everything you say. I think the Coffe Soup sounds great, especially on a cold, snowy blustery winter day. Hot coffee. Bread. What’s not to like. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • My grandparents serve coffee in a similar way to this, though its not called coffee soup. 🙂 They are Cuban and they always found it odd that children in America didn’t like coffee. They would have coffee in the mornings, sweetened and with milk. The most common way to consume it was by dipping their Cuban bread in it. Apparently that was how they served it to their kids when they were growing up.

  • Deana

    My great grandma always made float and I have asked every family member for the recipe and no one can tell me how to make it. It was like Floyd it was like a pudding. I loved float.

    • Roberta

      Deana, I am still trying to find a recipe for Float. When I do find it I will publish it here at MTTD. Thanks for visiting and commenting.