I grew up in a small Indiana town. As I have discussed with friends many times, it was a simpler age. Mom trusted us to go the three blocks to the grocery store. The checkout girl examined the shopping list to make sure we got everything. She put the change in the sack. It was great fun to be "responsible". As my brother and I got older we extended our range until we traveled all over the town (population at that time about 15,000, so we covered several miles on our stingray bikes). We would ride to Grandma's, to the park, the public pool. Where we really wanted to go was the creek. The problem was the creek was on the other side of the highway and we were forbidden, upon pain of blistered ass, not to ride our bike across the highway.
Like most boys, we found an "out". I can say to this day I never rode my bike across the highway. We went to the nearest stoplight and walked the bike across. Then we got on and rode as fast as possible out of sight, lest someone snitch to Mom we were across the highway. While we knew we did not break the rule, we were smart enough to know we might be bending it a lot!
By most standards the creek was not much: ten to fifteen feet wide, inches to a couple of feet deep in most places. On a hot summer day it was cool and wet and refreshing. The fact that we were not supposed to play there probably made it better. At one spot there was a rope that you could swing over a "deep" spot where the water was maybe three feet deep. We would wade up and down the creek through the back yards of the rich people who lived along the banks. We would throw sticks in the little ripples and rapids, only to find them as the water eddied in the slower, deeper spots. At one point there was a small whirlpool.
After wading the creek up and down we would head back for our bikes. We would have to pick the leeches from our toes and legs. The ride home was full of spirit as we popped wheelies and raced each other. Sometimes we would stop for a Coke, or to smash the Twinkies at the grocery store. Maybe we would find some old bottles beside the street, we would cash them in for the three pennies.
Finally, dirty and exhausted we made the way home, always walking our bikes across the highway.