Four children and a dog run and play through a field
Respondents share memories of what brought them joy in ‘simpler times’

A simple, nostalgic trip down memory lane brings us a holiday gift of smiles. In this column, adopted from the familiar “Heard on the Street” format, we offer our responders a chance to answer the question posed in the title. These are their replies reported verbatim.

Family, Friends, Animals, Play, Sports & Propane

Around once a month on Saturday, my brother and our best friend would hike all the way to town (around a quarter of a mile). We would go to the candy store to see all the new comic books. We would find our favorites — typically Superman, Batman, The Flash, or my personal favorite, Green Lantern. They cost 12 cents but eventually went up to 15 cents. We had inflation back then, too.We would make our selection, bring them home and sit on the front porch reading them, drinking Coke out of a bottle and discussing our superheroes. I would also look at the advertisements and wonder how those X-ray glasses worked. Great memories from a simpler time.

Steve Abbate
Cetane Associates
Kent, Connecticut


Playing in the woods! Climbing trees, building forts (sometimes with supplies we found in our houses that our parents were not happy about), getting muddy in the creek, playing in new houses being built and running wild with our neighborhood friends. We had a lot of fun, and most of the time we made safe choices (sorry, Mom). We were fortunate that when we got a little too wild, nothing bad happened.

As a family, we made a ton of memories on vacations (some of those being propane industry events), and we had a blast at the pool, doing water sports at the lake or playing family kickball games. But when I think about being a kid, unstructured play in the woods stands out.

Lauren Clark
Toledo, Ohio

Easiest question so far. My favorite thing to do as a kid was spending time with my horse. Nothing made my heart happier than to be with my first horse, Amarha — whether it was sitting in her stall pouring my heart out to her or loping through a meadow on a sunny day. She was by far my best friend and my brightest light on the darkest days. There’s something magical about the bond between a girl and her horse. Best days ever!

Judy Taranovich
Proctor Gas
Proctor, Vermont

My favourite things to do as a kid:

  • Ages 4-5: playing with dolls/action figures (GI Joe was cool!)
  • Ages 6-8: skipping at recess; marbles
  • Ages 9-11: playing “kick the can” with the older teenagers in the neighbourhood; going to the movies
  • Ages 12-13: reading books with my best friend, Janice (We’d each be reading our own book, but we would sit together.)
  • And every single year from age 5 to the present: going to the cottage in the summer!

Leslie Woodward
Fairview Fittings
Oakville, Ontario, Canada

I was such a tomboy as a kid, so anything that involved competitive sports gave me joy! I loved going to [Minnesota] Twins games with my dad and playing baseball with my brother, Brian. Pickup baseball games in the track/baseball fields behind our house with other kids in town happened daily. The Bird Island town noon and dinner whistles were our signals to get home to eat.

When we didn’t have a team game going, we had a homemade solution — a baseball on a rope! One of us swirled it around our head so the other sibling could practice hitting the ball at the other end of the rope. And yes, there were a few injuries with that fun invention!

Susan Peterson
Rural Computer Consultants
Bird Island, Minnesota

I was not a person who was into playing any sports or participating in after-school activities. Instead, I enjoyed going out with my father on Saturdays and delivering propane with him. I would get out of the truck at each stop and follow in his footsteps. At this time, we were a 100-pound, swap-out type distributor.

I have many great memories of learning this business. Of course, stopping at a diner for lunch was always special for quality time. I remember learning and using two-way radio, such as [citizens band] (CB) radio or business radio and listening to both police and fire communication.

To this day I still enjoy that activity. I have been a ham radio operator, as well, since the early 1990s. I enjoyed many day trips on Sundays to the coast with my parents to places, such as Rockport and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Richard Strycharz Jr.
Walter’s Propane
Sunderland, Massachusetts

More Sports, Play, Animals, Family, Friends & Reading

Going outside and playing! As soon as I got home from school, I would throw my backpack in my room and run out the door to play with the neighborhood kids. I grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, near the ocean, and there was no shortage of things to do every afternoon — regardless of the time of the year.

It was unstructured time; we essentially managed ourselves, solved our own problems and stayed out until our parents called us in for dinner or the streetlights went on. We all learned many valuable life lessons just being kids and playing all kinds of sports and just doing typical kids’ games and activities.

Jerry Schimmel
P3 Propane Safety
Cumberland, Rhode Island

One of my favorite things to do as a kid was playing baseball with my friends. It was a time when we all had to be outside all day. We would go to the local ballfield and pick teams. It was a great learning experience.

There were winners and losers, good players and not so good players. But we all figured it out on our own and remained friends. It was spontaneous and fun. No parents were there to direct us. Nobody got seriously injured. If someone got hurt, we helped them out.

I miss those days when kids were allowed to do more on their own and learn all about life. Our mothers always knew where we were and what we were doing. They knew everything and talked to each other. Good times for sure.

Ed Varney
Top Line Management LLC
McKinney, Texas

I grew up 6 miles from town on a farm. I enjoyed playing with our barn cats and taking walks through the timber with our dogs. But probably my favorite thing was go to work with my mom. She was a vet tech for 30 years in our hometown, so I got to help her care for some of the animals on the weekends. A close second was going to the bowling alley with my parents. While they bowled in their leagues, their friends would give us money for the jukebox, video games and soda from the bar!

Tonya Crow
Bloomington, Illinois

As a child, I absolutely loved reading. I could always be found curled up in a corner with a book. This habit of reading has stayed with me through adulthood, and I credit my parents and wonderful teachers for always encouraging me to learn and read as much as possible.

A very close second to reading constantly was my other favorite activity — roller skating!

Jessica Johnson
Asheville, North Carolina

My favorite thing to do as a kid was spending time with my family! I had six sisters and one brother, and times were much simpler then. We were not entertained by cellphones and electronics then. If we weren’t playing together in the yard outside, we were playing inside.

Whether it was playing with dolls, coloring, playing games or spending time in our basement kitchen, there was always a lot of activity going on in our house. As I look back at my childhood and all the fond memories I have, I realize we don’t fully appreciate all our life experiences until we are adults!

Rosie Buschur
McMahan’s Bottle Gas
Dayton, Ohio

Going to the ice rink early in the morning before school and skating our programs before dawn. The music and cold air made us all move faster and wake up. It always took me to a very happy place to be able to jump and spin!

Laurie Irish-Jones
Irish Propane
Buffalo, New York

Happy Times to Recall

Thanks to this month’s responders and all the others through the year for bringing us joyful childhood memories, thoughtful ideas, humor and even wisdom. Bringing the industry a glimpse of human interest viewpoints from our colleagues around the country may offer us a chance to enjoy this great propane community through another lens.

Thanks for reading! See you in 2023!

Nancy Coop is an industry advocate. She is director of marketing at the M&A advisory firm Cetane Associates. Contact her at


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