Never had the pleasure of meeting Art Mantell in person, but after moving to the Outaouais in the mid-80s and being a regular reader of (and contributor to) the West Quebec Post, and then migrating somewhat closer to Wakefield in the late ’80s and becoming a Low Down to Hull and Back News subscriber, you couldn’t help but get a sense that you thought you knew the man a bit.
Hard-nosed with newsman chops, Mantell was highly opinionated (hey, the Low Down was his show and he had things to say, especially after serving a stretch in the bureaucratic cone of personal opinion silence). He was also quick-witted, feisty and had a unique sense of humour, as evidenced in the Low Down’s ‘Worst Joke of the Week’ feature. Long may it pun.
I enjoyed an inadvertent and indirect crossing-of-paths with Art after I had submitted a piece to the Low Down recounting my, and my wife’s experience taking in an abandoned dog, who had been wandering along Hwy 307 in apparent distress, on a sweltering hot summer day.
Art’s daughter, Nikki, the fairly newly-minted publisher/editor of the Low Down, contacted me requesting a personal photo to accompany the article, which they’d decided to run. In the course of our discussion, she mentioned that her father, upon reading my article, had commented that it must have been previously published, because he thought it was too well-written not to have been professionally edited.
Apparently, it was Nikki’s vouching for its first-time around bona fides (unpublished virginity?) that convinced Art that it wasn’t second-hand material.
Regardless, whatever led to running the piece – or even if the Low Down hadn’t – I was grinning like a Cheshire cat because of Art Mantell’s instincts as a consummate journalist – something I’d written had him thinking twice about its publication history.
Given the source, I still consider it one of the highest compliments (albeit, backhanded) that I’ve ever received about something I’d written.
Thank you Art (RIP, though I doubt you will), you ever skeptical newsman.
Grant Boyd, Jr.