Northwest Arkansas Times from Fayetteville, Arkansas on August 4, 1974 · Page 5
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Northwest Arkansas Times from Fayetteville, Arkansas · Page 5

Fayetteville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 4, 1974
Page 5
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On The llth Month Of His 12th Year Northwmt Arkanwu TIMES, Sun., Aug. 4, 1974 · PAYKTTIVILLI, AUK AH I At 5A An American Tragedy: The Suicide Of Young Richard Blast By RICHARD E. MEYER CINCINNATI,' Ohio (AP) -He lived to be almost 13. Walnut eyes. Brown thatch. Boy Scout. Altar boy. He grew up in · white, middle-class America. He played football, and he played baseball. His mother, father, two brothers and sister loved him. Oh the fourth day of the llth month of his 12th year, a sunny afternoon in suburban Cincinnati, he walked down his favor He trail in the woods behind his house, climbed a tree, knotted a rope and hanged himself. ' Why, Rick? In the past year, at least 210 others as. young as Rick Blusl killed themselves in the United S t a t e s . Reported suicides among the very young have more than doubled in 20 years. Even adjusted for population growth, the rate has climbed. The story of Rick Blust, all American boy, is an American tragedy: A story about the go'oc life and the possibilities it offers for hidden pressure, subtle loneliness, quiet frustration-am , unanswered questions. Why, Rick? Richard Blust Jr., was born July 30, 1861,- in the Cincinnat suburb of Clifton. One month after his first, birthday, his parents, Pat and Richard Blust presented him. with a brother Jeff. Th'e .two .boys would be come good friends. In the second grade. Rick en tered St. Catherine's school, In the parish where the Blusts had moved in the suburb of West wood. His father: 'became volunteer football coach in t. Catherine's growing athletic! rograin. .. ! FATHER BUGGED ! Rick Blust was big enough o play second level, or "pony," ootball- But he got paired in iractice against a youngster iverybody called Mugsy. "After Wugsy kind of tore him up a ew times, he decided that maybe he ought to play 'bandits' a year and kind of find iut what it's all about first," lis father remembers. "Bandits" are the beginners. "That kinda bugged the devil out of me,' Rick's father says. Richard Blust thinks .he prob ably told his son he was disappointed. "But Rick says, Well, I just don't want .to play 'pony" ball. I'm just not good enough." And it was probably a good choice on his part. Bui ;hat was at the stage when I really wanted him to be the jest football player in the world, you know. And I wantcc him to be better." Rick preferred quieter .pur suits. -He started a stamp collection. At 7, he caught his first .fish - a little bluegill he lugged from the lake at Houston' Woods State Park on a camping trip with his family. · In 1969, when he was 8 years old, Rick joined'the Cub Scouts He advanced to Webelos, when he met Vic Caproni, who wouk become his assistant scoutmas ter. Just before becoming a full fledged Boy Scout, Rick wa given Cub Scouting's highes award, the Arrow of Light. Rick was graduated from th o o "bandits" after a year learning the fundamentals football. He played "pony" fool ball for two years. But he was large boy, and he found him-' elf paired off against Mugsy gain- In school Rick got Bs and ON HIS WAY By 1972,.when he was 11, Rick vas well on his way toward iis most important goal: to iccome an Eagle Scout. He rorked at it steadily. By now is father was a Scout commis- ioner. He went along with Rick and.his troop on most oE their likes and campouts. And he jounseled Rick on five of the dozen merit badges he earned. By now Rick's father was athletic director at St. Catherine's. Rick worked long hours at fund-raising for the Dad's "Ilub, which sponsored the par- sh teams. He took over the lopcorn concession at basket- jail tournaments. "He'd get upset when I'd suggest he take a break and try to get some other kid to replace him so he could go watch the games," says Don O'Brien, past president of the Dad's Club. During the 1972-73 . school year, Rick played "nee-wee" : ootball, one level ' above "pony." So did Mugsy. "Rick always fought him off, but he'd get beat all the time," his father says. "There'd be nights when Rick'd say, 'Oh, he really wiped me out.' " Rick wasn't on the starting team. But one October evening, he came home from .practice smiling. "What happened?" asked his father. "Boy, I really wiped him out tonight. I really got him. Rick meant Mu'gsy. It was probably the only time that ever happened, Richard Blust says. Rick never missed a Scout meeting. He added up the 'requirements to become an Eagle, allotted himself so much time to accomplish each and put himself on a rigid schedule. "Rich was really good at scouting," says Richard Blust, "and I really had a lot of pride in that." Rick set his heart on a trip to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, and started working at Scout projects to earn his way. He planned to work at a Scout car wash. And he never missed a Scout paper drive. FALL SPORT Last fall, Rick's father told him he had to play a fall sport. "I was thinking in terms of football," said Richard Blust. But St. Catherine's had started soccer. Rick said he'd rather play that. "He was aggressive · on the soccer team," says football coach Bob Sontag. Vic Capron] describes him as good ···i-jj^vJ-E-n^X ·* ···'T;- 1 *.* 5 *-,^""..'''''**' ** ·irV'-' III .^ soccer player." But soccer was not the prestige sport at St Catherine's. "Football at St. Catherine's is king," says Dick Horton, a lislory teacher. Caproni discounts any at tempt by Richard Blust to pres sure his son to play football But he adds: "There probably was some pressure in the situa tipn. His father is athletic director. The situation says 'Hey, how come you're no playing, Rick?' " By now, though, school wasn' 'oing entirely well. Rick wasn' loing his homework for Ian guage arts. That was Georgin Brinkman's class. And Ric getting a D. "In content subjects, like cience and social studies, I uppose he could take his own ath. But in English grammar lere is only one way to go." Irs. Brinkman smiles. "As oug as I'm your teacher." She told Pat and Richard lust their son's grades were ailing. "Hey, is something bothering ou?" Rick's father asked him. "No," Rick said. wasn't any way, boause in high school, well, he's just not going to be u soccer man . . . because he's plain too big, and never was real fast . . . I still had the hopes' that this year he would finally find out, with the size and all on his side, lhat he would become more agressive. . Rick Blusl, 12 years old, stood S-fect-5, weighted 140 pounds. "Rick, you ready for foot"Sey, ^u know, if you fail ^"..^]^ W,^ iummer. In Dick Horton's history lass, Rick slipped from an A o a B or B-plus. Horton was no of his favorites. He, in turn, appreciated Rick's sense of aumor. "In the last few weeks, le didn't talk as much," Horton emembers. "He didn't participate. And his dry wit was no onger as present." Though Rick was never what )ick Horton calls "Joe Popu- arity," he was well liked - and ie was good friends with Rick .Vanstralh, for instance, and \Iark Bcrninger. 'But Richard Blust was unaware that Rick had any close 'riends. He never went to any of his friends house to play - and never invited any of them to his".to play. By now Richard Blust headec in his spare time an athletic organization at St. Catherine's that totaled 110 coaches, almos all of them fathers who hat volunteered. P o u r foolbal teams 14 baseball teams . . . 10 basketball teams . track . . . socce r. . . softbal . . . volleyball . . . kickbal The parish sports budge totaled $11,491. Rick's father says, 'This yea I think he wanted to play socce again. But I told him that ther onna be a big kid, you can make tackle." RATHER PLAY SOCCER Rick Wanstralh remembers Rick Blust-saying: "My dac vants me to play, football,,bul .'d rather play soccer!" " Two weeks before the end o chool Dick Horton asked him Rick, you gonna play foot 'Yea, I guess I hav to," he shrugged. "My: Dad wants me o' lose 10 pounds because o the weight limit." On Saturday, June I, Rick' ather took hiin to a Scou show. He bought Rick a sou venir patch. That evening Ric worked on his personal man agement merit badge, for.whic le drew up a .budget,..It. se a fixed amount aside eac month for the trip to Philmont. After dinner, he tried lo shov nis family photo slides of Phi rnont, but the projector bul blew out. On Sunday, June 2, Ric helped clean the family campe for a Scout canoe trip th coming weekend. He wir brushed the rust from wheels and painted them whit On Monday, June 3, he rot his bicycle in front of his hous and hit a hole in the pavemen It pitched him over the hand rs. A neighbor was sure he'd en hurt, but he got up, looked oiirid to be certain nobody ad seen him and got back on s bike.. One. of its pedals was nt. : -- ""You know. I can't play ball, I don't want to go to prac- ce," Rick said, when he tele- loned his father at work on uesday, June 4. "Well, you know, I think you ight to go, because you've nissed here a few times and you're going to be part of ic team you've got to go to radices, loo." "Well, I'm not gonna take my love." "I think that you ought to k^.the glove and all and just p'.Op.up." ... - . . . . Rick handed the telephone re- eiver to his mother, and she ung . It up. Rick walked oul ic back door. He had tears n his eyes. He went to the garage, found ho rope, carried it down the rail to a dead tree in the voods. FATHER FOUND BODY His father found his body th next morning. The baseball glove was near y.' The terrible Ifs accumulated Vic Caproni: "If he'd come li me : . . ." "* '-"· '- - · - . · · ' · Pat Blust: "If I'd have onl; said he didn't have to go t Daseball practice . . . " Richard Blust: "If I ha'd gon back there to the woods tha night, he might have been abl to keep his weight off 'the rbp for a period of time, or some thing like that, and, you kno you could have helped him Rick's father says a polic man friend told him the rop wasn't tied, but only loope around the tree limb. H elieves his son didn't intend to:; e - but lhat the rope had heldj ccidehtally . . . t "Yet I don't question the factj at he got the rope and he^ ent back there and he had? ed the rope around his neck.;ou know, I just can't believe; lat Rick would really do that.' xcepl that he had to have One it, I guess . . ." Other policemen and county oroner Frank Cleveland deter- nined the fastening around the ree limb secure enough to rula ut an accident. They declared ick a suicide. "Not infrequently, suicides.' re caused by intense anger or.' rustration," says Dr. Fedo'r- lagenauer, a pediatric psychias' rist at the University of Cincinati. "Because this anger or. rustration is addressed at eople who are very important,, children have a lot of guilty, eeiings about them. And then',- jecause of the guilty feelings!: and because the anger or frus- ration has to come out in some: vay, they might try to take t out on themselves . . . even, vilh a token gesture, or going through the motions . . . maybe" vith a fantasy that they'll ba rescued at the last minute . . . . and Lhey'l do it thinking, "Everybody wi see h o w unhappy I am and they'll learn and give in to what I'm unhappy about . . . " It would have been impossible, he said, to predict Rick's" fate. The Rev. George Schmitz, ,vho celebrated Rick's requiem Mass at St. Catherine's, doesn't think Rick was morally responsible for his death. ' During the Mass, Boy Scouts presented gifts to God symbolizing Rick's life. : At Jeff's suggestion, one was a soccer ball. In Chinese language Transmission Communications Speeded TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- A elude about half the characters not complex enough to handle Chinese-American computer expert has developed what he says is the first workable computer-based system of Chinese language transmission. Chan H. Yeh, 38, of Sunny- 'vale, Calif., claims his system, on which he has 33 patents, can make long-distance commu- ,nication in Chinese or any other ideographic language as fast as or faster than communication .in languages that spell their words. He has already sold the Na- .tionalist- Cliinese government on his idea, and is currently in 'Taiwan ''delivering 'the first complete system and training operators in its use. Over '20 per cent of the world's 'people speak Chinese, more than twice the number that speak the second major language, English. Despite this numerical supe riority, however, rapid written communication over long dis tances In the language has al ways been hampered bv one major problem -- Chinese words aren't spelled, they are drawn; and as there are almos 10.000 of them in common use there Is no way to fit all o them onto the typewriter keys on which long-distance written communications have dependec in the past. Up to now, two major ways have existed of getting around this,.«ach With its own draw back. · The Chinese cable code as signs a four-digit number tc each of about 10,000 characters and the number can be tele graphed and then decoded on the receiving end. But the en coding and decoding can be slow process, and a mistake I one digit can change the cntir meaning of the message, wit! disastrous results. TELEX CUMBERSOME There are also Chinese Tele machines, hut they are cumber some to operate and only in n frequent use. Yeh's system, however, takes ,600 characters and stores lem in a computer memory. To write a message, an oper- tor first locates on a keyboard n front of him the 15-character iroup containing the first character he wants to use. Groups are organized in mall boxes, and each charac- er in a box begins with the ame sound to make them easer to locate. The operator then presses his inger onto the group's position in the sheet, closing a pressure-sensitive switch much like hose used to select floors In many elevators. Pressing but- ons numbered from 1 to 15 on another sections of the keyboard tells the computer which of the 15 characters in the group he wants, and that character then appears on a television screen above the keyboard. Once the message is composed, it can be edited, stored, printed or transmitted all via the computer. Yeh claims a typing speed of 60 characters per minute -- equal to about 70 words per minute in English -is possible, and that his equipment will print out 400 characters a minute on paper or transmit 500 characters per second to another computer ter minal. The system would also make possible for the first time computer storage of Chinese-Ian guage information in a* Chinese form, without its first having lo be translated into either an al phabetic language or numbers Similar systems have been de veloped for Japanese, but he cause they rely heavily on Japanese alphabet* they are the full ran'ge of Chinese characters, Yeh says. BACKYARD INVENTOR Perhaps the last of the backyard inventors, Yeh says he developed the system in his garage over an eight-year period while working for IBM. "I suggested the system to IBM, but they didn 1 twant to try it," says Yeh, currently on his second year of leave from the company. He says his system is adaptable for any ideographic language -- Japanese, Arabic, Korean or the Indian languages. And at some point in the fu; even be used for English, typing by vords instead of by letters. To type "United States," for example, you'd only have to )Ush one button instead of 12, and let the computer worry about how to spell it. Farm Prices Up LITTLE ROCK (AP) -- The Arkansas Crop and Livestock Reporting Service says Ar- (ansas farmers received higher prices for their farm products In July. The All-Farm Products Index rose 10 points lo 519 per cent of its 1910-14 base last month and 103 points or 25 per cent above the July 1973 index. The Crop Index increased 1 per cent during the month. Prices advanced for all grains and hay crops. The Livestock and Products Index increased 3 per cent from the previous month but remained 16 per cent below the July 1973 index. The dairy in-, dex declined, while the meat animal and poultry indexes increased. 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