"Do you have a pen," he asked as he took a seat beside me at a charity reception a few months back. After giving him one, he removed the bar napkin from under his drink and proceeded to draw the number 3 on it. "Now watch this," he said.
With a few strokes of the pen, Howe turned the number into a drawing of a duck. He then penned the number 2 and turned it into a sketch of a swan. He wrote the number 8 and turned it into a snowman with a hat that looked more like a fat cowboy. "It can be a fat snowman cowboy if you want," he said.
Maybe it was because we were both bored, but I was fascinated by this timeless Hall of Famer turning numbers into cartoons, and he was more than happy to continue between signing autographs for fans.
"I can forge autographs, too," he said with a smile as he meticulously signed the names of former teammates
He then mixed it up by writing the number 4 next to the letter R and making that into a bird with the tip of the four acting as the beak. "I did that at first when I met kids. You tell them to draw a number and you'd put a head on it and give it back to them and they'd be happier than heck," said Howe, who also sketched his farmhouse in Saskatchewan, complete with the chimney and smoke coming out of it. "I got these hanging all over the dang wall."
The only thing that stopped his impromptu art show was the need to return home to be with his wife, Colleen, who was affectionately referred to as Mrs. Hockey. She was battling Pick disease, an incurable neurological form of dementia, which would soon take her life in March. Howe, who is still coping with the loss, recently launched the Gordie and
I recently caught up with my artistic friend to take a stroll down memory lane.