Detroit News readers share their Gordie Howe memories
Red Wings legend Gordie Howe suffered a stroke Sunday in Texas. The Detroit News asked readers to send get-well wishes and share some of their favorite stories about Howe. Below are a selection of those stories:
"I can always remember standing at the front door at Olympia shaking hands with the greatest hockey player of all time. He treated fans like a friend. You don't see that enough anymore." — Michael N. Jaskolski
"It was 1972 and I, expecting my son, was at Olympia Stadium for a game when I saw Mr. Howe standing by the rink. I stopped to say hi, and he said, 'Do you have a little hockey player in there?' We laughed and he gave me his autograph, which I have given to my son. Such a wonderful gentleman he is." — Alida Bywater
"I sent away for your hockey book when I was 9 or 10 years old. I'm 63 now, and still remember watching the mailbox every day till it arrived. Thank you from all the old kids of Canada. Get well soon, Gordie." — Daniel LaPierre
"I belonged to a senior hockey league he owned. One time he was at the rink in Berkley and skated with the players. Great experience. My wife was on the bench looking down. He scooped up snow from the boards with his stick and dumped it in the back of her jacket. He is a great guy. ... Please get well; the world needs people like you." — William Glass
"I had the pleasure of meeting him twice. ... The second time was in 2009 at Hank Graff Chevrolet in Bay City.
"I said to him: 'I heard a story where the Plexiglas at Olympia Stadium was broken and instead of going to the bench to hear the coach's instructions, you were helping the maintenance crew. Did this really happen?'
He reflected for a moment and said, 'Yes, and Coach Adams sure gave me hell, but I figured the faster the glass was fixed the quicker the game could be resumed.'" — Robert Eugene Mastroianni
"Thank you, Gordie. You introduced a Texas boy to hockey. One game and I bought season tickets and became a fan. All the best and prayers for you." — Joe Pulido
"I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Howe a couple of times in Traverse City, where I lived. When he was in town, he would come into Meijer, where I worked at the time. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Always very friendly. Get well soon." — Leslye Baldwin O'brien
"One of my fondest memories as a child was when I was about eight years old, late 50's. I was standing by the carpet where they came out of the locker room at the old red barn. There were no ropes or anything, Teddy was ahead of him. Gordie slapped me lightly in the rear with his stick, I looked up and it was big ol' Gordie Howe. He scraped the snow on the ice with his stick and dumped it on us over the glass during warmups. Thanks for all the great memories. Praying for the best." — Donald Hunter
"Saw Gordie and Colleen at Westland Mall back in the 90's for a book signing. My then-girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter was with me. She asked me who they were. I said Mr. and Mrs. Hockey. She turned to them and yelled, "Hi, Mr. and Mrs Hockey!" They turned and smiled and waved back. Very genuine people. Get well, Gordie." — Mike Dehn
"I remember as a kid lining up at a local department store for an autograph from Gordie. My mother was there with me, and she stood at the front the whole time, right beside Gordie, and they talked and laughed the entire time I waited." — Paul Gunn
"Mr. Howe came to the little town of Schreiber, Ontario, about 50 years ago and presented me with a small trophy when I was in minor hockey. I still have the trophy and the memories. Get well, sir." — Ted Winters
"My husband and I were at the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids during Ford's annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. While the former president was speaking I turned, and the man standing next to me was Gordie Howe. I asked him if I could shake his hand and told him that I watched him play hockey when I was a girl at the old Olympia Stadium. The two little boys standing in front of us turned and said, 'You play hockey?' I told them that he did and he was better than Wayne Gretzky. I shall never forget that night." — Jacquelyn Dilay Donehoo
"Sports Illustrated sent me to Texas to photograph Gordie and Bobby Hull in the early 70s. I shot both players during the game. After the game I arranged to meet Gordie outside the arena and I would follow him in my rental auto to his home where I would photograph he and his family.
"When we met I had a large, needless to say, heavy camera bag. Four Nikon motor drives, three wide angle lenses, an 80-200 millimeter zoom, a fixed 200 mm and a huge 300 mm 2.8 Topcor lens on a monopod. To top it off, two bricks of Ektachrome (film), two light meters and two flashes. In another bag were Norman flash units, three heads and light stands, plus all the attendant cords and rolls of gaffers tape.
"I tell you this not to impress you how hard photographers work. I mention it because Gordie insisted on carrying everything to his car while I walked a few blocks to the parking lot. He picked up the two bags as if they were toys, smiled and said, "I'll see you soon."
"As I walked to my car, my wife asked, 'Can you believe what just happened?' I'd always been a Ranger fan. That day I became a Gordie fan. God bless you Gordie, God bless you." — Mel Digiacomo
"Mr. Hockey, you pulled my winter hat off at the Detroit Skating Club when I was about 10 years old. You wanted to know if I was leading a cheer in the locker room about you being a dirty player. I said, "No sir!" What I didn't get to say that, along with my dad, Ike Lampi, you were my hockey idol." — Laure Lampi
"I remember being down at Olympia back in the days when the players walked right by you to go on the ice. My mom had her camera at the ready and Gordie and Alex Delvecchio were heading out on to the ice, and much to their chagrin mom took the pictures with the flash going off in their eyes as they headed onto the ice. Great pictures though! You're in our thoughts and prayers." — Sandra Schimmel Fitzgerald
"I met Gordie around 1976. The Red Wings old-timers were playing a game in Southfield, and me and my mom went with my Uncle Cal and Aunt Betty Roe, and I got him to sign a autograph hockey stick. Such wonderful memories." — Gary VanDecar
"Met Mr. Howe when I was 15 or so at Jackson Optimist Ice Arena that my aunt and uncle run. He showed up for the Jackson vs. Red Wings old-timers game and played a few shifts. My cousin and I were so excited that we waited outside and as he and Mrs. Howe were walking up they both said 'Hi' to each of us before walking in. He was the first celebrity I had ever met, and it was such a great experience!
"We waited in line and my parents bought me the 'And Howe' book they were selling, and they both signed it for me. Then I watched my uncle skate and throw some Gordie elbows out there for a few shifts. Over 15 years ago that happened and I'll still never forget it. Great memories!" — Chad Jurmu
"I remember when the Legends of Hockey came to Anchorage they used our 1921 fire truck for pictures. I let Gordie drive it, best day for me. He even took a picture with me and autographed it for me. Hangs over my desk in the fire station." — Michael R. Sweet
"I remember meeting you ... in Houston when you played for Houston back in the mid-70s. You were my mom's favorite player. She passed away a few months after she saw you play. I made her day when I told her I met you. I was about 10 years old." — Jackie Knight
"You would come and visit my neighbor next door in Detroit, Brad Brown. I remember peeking in the living room window to see you. I don't think you ever caught me, either. I was too embarrassed to ask for an autograph as I was small. Wish I had asked now. — Barbara Maxwell