A VERY BRIEF SESSION WITH GORDIE HOWE
GORDIE HOWE WITH HIS SONS MARK AND MARTY IN 1979
The brush with fame was, like so many during my career as a daily news photographer, brief, even rushed.
The Hartford Whalers were practicing at the Windsor Arena, a decrepit hockey barn on the edge of downtown Windsor. Gordy Howe had been playing for the Houston Aeros in the World Hockey Association for several years, skating along with his sons Mark and Marty.
But to The Windsor Star his 1979 pre-season appearance in our town was news. Front page colour news.
And that was unusual. At the time the Star ran one colour “project” a week, always on Saturday. The pictures were almost always shot several days before publication, were static, over lit and frankly, uninteresting.
Our work was printed on an ancient press that was never intended to print four-colour pictures. The reproduction was terrible. We often put our 35mm film cameras away and shot on clumsy twin-lens reflex cameras which used 120 film. This gave us slightly better picture quality and the flexibility to use fill-flash at higher shutter speeds.
We didn’t even develop or print our own pictures but rather used an outside lab.
I can’t remember if I used my 35mm camera or my old Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex for the assignment but I do remember being nervous. Very nervous.
I put a flash on a light stand bounced into an umbrella and had a fellow Star photographer hold a second light.
Howe and his sons skated over, I set them up, shot a few frames, perhaps a half dozen, and it was over. Gordie said something like, “ya got enough, kid,” I nodded yes and they skated to the showers.
That wasn’t the end of my Howe family photo assignments. A few years later I photographed Gordie’s youngest son Murray for the Toronto Star. He was studying medicine at the University of Michigan and has since gone on to a career as a radiologist.