Mile High II Collection Part IX

This week's column is Chapter #9 of the story of the 1985 purchase of the Mile High II collection of 1.5 million comics.

Once I finally had convinced the seller to sign on the dotted line of the contract, I was then faced with the daunting task of loading the entire warehouse full of comics in a single day. Fortunately, I had already contracted for four 53' tractor trailers (at $2,200 each) to be on call for pick-up. In a stroke of luck, there were 4 trucks that had just unloaded cargos of frozen beef that afternoon at the terminal in Manhattan, and were about to return to the packing plant in Colorado. The dispatchers were delighted to divert those trucks over to my location that very same evening. With the deal signed at 5:30, I already had trucks arriving on location by 9 PM that same evening.

The next morning I got up at the crack of dawn, and contacted the truck drivers. They had parked overnight in a the parking lot of a newly built shopping center, about one mile from the warehouse. I gave them directions to the warehouse, and they headed out in a convoy to the storage unit facility. As they pulled out, I was shocked to see 72 very neat divits in the brand new asphalt of the shopping center, exactly where the tires of the trucks had been resting overnight. Clearly, parking tractor trailers (even empty ones) on newly laid asphalt is a very bad idea. The good news is that the construction company still had their roller in place, and was apparently still working on the lot, so wiping out the divits was probably not a big deal. It was, however, a very strange way to start the day.

Once we got the first truck into place, the loading commenced. You would think that loading a million and a half comics would take a long time, but it was actually not that bad. The seller had brought a forklift and a pallet jack from his main warehouse. One of the truck drivers volunteered to run the forklift, and he kept a steady stream of pallets flowing into the back of the trucks. As the pallets were set on the end of each truck, they were grabbed by a team inside that was working with the pallet jack. It took 26 pallets to fill each trailer (2 rows of 13). The greatest complication we faced was that many of the pallets were unstable, and had to be restacked. Once that task was accomplished, however, loading the trucks was a breeze. By 6 PM, we had completely filled all four trucks, each with 44,000 pounds (20,000 KG) of comics. The drivers then headed out in a convoy toward Interstate 80. Once they crossed over into New Jersey, the lead trucker gave me a call, and I turned over $100,000 in cashier's checks to the seller.

The next day (Sunday) I took the two staff members I had brought with me from Colorado to the airport. Afterwards, Mike Kott and I headed for the seller's main warehouse. He had told us that there were a few comics, and some comics related items, still stored there, and that we could take all that we found. It was rather eerie wandering around in that huge building all by ourselves, but it was also a lot of fun. Mike distinctly recalls me being in a very euphoric mood, and launching into a rousing chorus of Don Henley's "Smuggler's Blues" when we chanced to find an unopened bundle of 300 copies of AVENGERS #32 laying in an odd corner. It was quite giddy to have already shipped over 1,500,000 comics, and to still be finding more!

This particular warehouse had very high ceilings, mostly utilized for immensely tall five-high pallet racking. In one corner of the building, however, there was a wooden mezzanine. Prowling through that old attic we chanced upon a huge pile of the old Marvel Day-Glo greeting cards that had been printed during the early 1970's. Pigeons had been roosting above the pile, however, so we had to carefully remove the top layers of soiled cards in order to salvage the good ones underneath. We ultimately were able to recover over 60,000 mixed cards.

While digging through pigeon dung was disgusting work, a few feet from the away Day-Glo cards I found something far worse. Right from the beginning, the seller had been very candid about the fact that his father was in prison for selling pornography. I had thought that a bit strange, as selling porno is a victimless crime, and my understanding at the time was that a (rare) porno conviction usually resulted in heavy fines and/or a suspended sentence. I had assumed that his father may have actually had tax problems concurrent with the porno charges, and that those were what actually sent him to jail. The 4' X 4' pallet bin I discovered, however, was filled to the brim with what appeared to be glossy originals of images that were far from victimless. I consider myself to be quite the defender of the First Amendment, but if these guys had anything to do with the creation or distribution of those vile images, they deserved to not only go to jail, but also to burn in Hell. I don't know if I've ever been so revolted in my entire life, before that time, or in the 18 years since.

As with most situations, however, nothing is ever cut-and-dried. Just because a bin of filth was sitting tucked away in a back corner the seller's warehouse, I had no way of actually knowing if he had anything to do with it. For all I knew, it could have belonged to the previous tenant of the warehouse. More importantly, there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. All I could do was to try and get out of there as quickly as I could. I thought I could eventually forget about that damn bin of glossy photographs as the years went by, but as it turned out, it is the single strongest single image that sticks with me from that entire historic deal.

To be continued...

Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221

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