Melody Rust, pretty as a picture, smart as a whip, afraid of nothing and funny as all get out! If you picked up a Eureka Springs newspaper in the past 25 or so years, the odds are 50/50 everything in it was designed and computer-composed by either Melody Rust or Perlinda-Pettigrew Owens. Newspaper owners, like editors, come and go. Melody and Perlinda were two indispensable artists every new owner could not go to press without.
When I hired her for the composition department at the old Carroll County News group in Berryville, she took one look at what we were just starting to do with computers and asked, “How did you learn all this?” Within a month she was the 18-year-old we all went to when we couldn’t figure out how to do something on the computers. Her commitment to getting those machines to spit out art was, like most everything she tackled, hands-on. At deadline when the pressure was on, visitors and advertisers were sometimes startled by the sight of Melody leaping up on her work table, bracing her feet against the wall and wrestling with the god-damn laser printer, which weighed more than she did, while yelling, “Give it back you bitch!” And it did.
My favorite memory of Melody comes from a float trip down the Kings. I was following her solo in a kayak when Mel and her friend in a tandem canoe veered to river right and beached their boat on a sandbar. Mel hopped out and raced into the woods. “Is she all right?” I asked her partner. “Yeah. She just spotted a cave.” I looked landward in time to see a sky-blue bikini bottom charging down the dark mouth of a cavern at the foot of a limestone bluff. That was Mel. A real Berryville girl.