I had to be home before dark, too. What was different was that there were four houses in a row (we were the second one) who all "shared" a back yard. All of the kids could be outside until bedtime since the adults were always sitting on one of the patios watching us. It was great! We played "red light, green light", "spotlight", Simon Says" and just generally ran around! The last time I drove by everyone had put up fences between the yards
On Halloween we went all over the neighborhood within about 4 blocks. The only rule was that we shouldn't go to a house without a light on. There were always adults around, but they didn't interfere with our fun. It never occurred to us to do any damage. We just wanted the candy, taffy apples and caramel popcorn.
I'm so sad that the children today can't enjoy the freedom that we had