My friends and I were power trick-or-treaters. These were the days when it was safe to go around ringing doorbells without parental escorts. A group of five or six of us would go around to a bunch of the six-story buildings in the neighborhood, starting at the top and working our way down, ringing every bell. Our takes were prodigious.
Occasionally, one of the adults would ask, "Who are you?" Sometimes I replied, "The ghost of Mel Ott," and sometimes just, "Mel Ott."
That year, at the end of the night, my shopping bag was fuller and heavier than ever before. I was thrilled. I got home and boasted to my mother of my haul. I left the bag on the kitchen counter and went to sleep.
The next morning I ran into the kitchen, ready to start working my way through the Halloween candy, but the bag was gone. What could have happened? I figured one of my brothers must have taken it. But they were eight and twelve years older than me. I knew they wouldn't have stolen it, but maybe they hid it, as a joke. Both brothers, however, denied any part in the candy's disappearance.
I went over the apartment with a fine-tooth comb. I looked in every closet, every drawer, every cabinet, and under every bed, but the bag was nowhere to be found. It remained an unsolved mystery for weeks. After a while I pretty much forgot it.
A little after this, my brother Bart got a major fright when he went to the bathroom one night and saw a giant rat drinking out of the toilet. This rat was as big as a cat, he said. At first my mother wouldn't believe him. "This is no tenement," she said.
But soon there were other sightings and evidence. So my mother went out and bought mouse traps. That's right, mouse traps; little mouse traps. And she placed a little square of kosher salami in each of them, perhaps assuming a rat in a Jewish neighborhood would have Jewish tastes. In the morning the salami would be gone, the trap sprung, and the rat nowhere in sight.
Finally she realized she had to call Manny the super in to investigate. Manny moved the refrigerator out from its alcove. Behind the refrigerator was a big hole, leading down to the basement (we lived on the first floor). Also behind the refrigerator was my Halloween shopping bag, ripped to shreds, with only a subset of the original contents remaining, Milky Ways and Hershey Bars half-eaten, with big rat's teeth marks through the wrappers.