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Amelia Kathleen “Amy” Riney Smith

Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa, USA
Death unknown
Burial Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa, USA
Memorial ID 111333088 · View Source
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Amy is the daughter of Henry Louis Riney and Leta Mildred McDaniel. She married Herman Leo Frieden on 17 December 1966 & they had Brenda Kathleen and Herman Lee. They divorced. She married Richard Lee Smith on 26 March 1973 & they had Joetta Lee. Amy is still living but requested to be added to FAG, since she plans to be buried with her husband Richard.
Being the 5th in a family of 9 children has its advantages. I have been able to spend at least some precious time in a home with each of my parents and siblings. My parents decided that I should be born in St. Joseph Catholic Hospital in Keokuk, IA. I am sure their being Catholic helped them in making that decision. On 27 November 1949, my maternal grandparents' 37th wedding anniversary, as the time of my birth came nearer, my parents made the trip from Derrahs, MO, to Keokuk, IA. Upon their arrival, Mom was examined, and it was found that I had started on my way into this world. The nuns told Mom I could not be born until the doctor arrived to deliver me. They put her legs together and wrapped sheets tightly around them to keep me from being born. When the doctor got there, the nuns got a "good talking to" as they and the doctor unwrapped Mom's legs. Soon after this, I was born. I have at times used this first experience with the world and the possible lack of oxygen to my brain as an excuse for brain damage. I weighed over 8 lbs. and was a healthy, brown-eyed baby girl. I was named Amelia Kathleen after my Great-Grandmother Margaret Amelia Hess.

I remember little of my very young childhood, but the things I remember are very vivid. I remember the old farmhouse that was located at the top of the hill above Derrahs. Most of my young life there was happy and carefree. I could go anywhere and do anything I wanted except for going to the pond. I could go there only if a "Big Kid" took me. Sometimes I would slip off and hide under a tree which was next to the pond. It had branches hanging to the ground in which I could hide. Sometimes Bill would be there fishing or Lil would be reading under the tree. If Lil was there, she would play school and read her book to me. Most of the time it was free, and I would play house under the limbs.

In the summer I liked to pull out dresser drawers and climb up them to make my bed in the top drawer where the breeze would blow across me. In the winter, I crawled in with Mom and a lot of the "brood" under a pile of covers that might have an extension cord with a light bulb on it to keep us warm and which sometimes caught the bed on fire!

I remember the snakes and spiders! What fun and excitement they were. Bill found a rattlesnake by one of the old sheds. Mom made him kill it but not before I got to hear it rattle its tail. And one time when I had to go to the outhouse so bad, I ran as fast as I could around the shed to get there in time and stopped dead still when I found myself face to face with a blue racer that was standing on its tail. I ran faster back around the corner and into the house where I played for the rest of the day! I don't remember what I did about going to the bathroom, but I don't think I had to go for awhile.

Sometimes I asked for a jar in which to catch bugs, and someone would find one for me; then I was off to the barn to catch spiders! Nobody would have given me one if they had known I was going to be looking for those black spiders with the red spots on their bellies and the brown, striped ones which made their webs in the shape of tunnels. I would try to find one of each to keep, but they kept fighting and killing each other.

I remember the trees to climb, the long grass to pull so we could make nests to pretend we were birds, and walking and playing in the woods, and I remember all the people who came when the burning trash caught the woods on fire! I remember the stilts to make you one of the "Big Kids," playing annie over, swimming in mud holes, playing in the rain, and just finding a place to be alone in a corner, the barn, the yard, a shed, or the woods. There was always a place to go or something to do, depending on your mood.

Then life changed, but I didn't know it yet. My daddy went to sleep in a bed in the living room for a few days. People came to see him while he slept there. Then they moved his bed to a place they called a cemetery and put lots of flowers around it. Mom gave each of us kids a ribbon from the flowers; mine was dark purple, and we kept them in a box under a bed in Grandma's attic. I remember thinking how much fun Daddy would have sleeping outside under the stars and smelling the flowers.

It didn't seem long to me before we were giving up the wide-open spaces for a life in the city. We moved to Edina, MO, where there was little room and lots of people. I still slept in nooks like on top of the table which folded down from the wall or with Bill in the combination washroom-bedroom in the add-on. If I was lonely or scared, Mom would let me see if I could find a space in her bed or on the floor beside it.

I soon found there was still a playground and a new playmate. I could swing in the swing and make sand pies from the sand under the swing. I remember the boy I made them for. He wouldn't eat them, so I ate them to show him they were good. They tasted so good to me that I started eating the sand with a spoon. I would go to his house and he would play the only record he had for me. It was Take Me out to the Ball Game. He let me use his bike so I could learn how to ride. I remember losing control of it—or should I say, I never really had control—and sliding with it under a truck. I couldn't crawl out and just leave the bike there. If the truck took off, it might run over the bike, so I sat there crying because I couldn't get it out. Some nice man came along and got it out and took the time to push me on it for awhile, so I learned how to ride a bike that day.

We could go across the street and get homemade cookies from a lady over there or to a station down the block and across the street. I discovered a way I could get candy from the man at the station. I found pennies or once in awhile a nickel in the parking meters. I could take them to the station, and the man would give me candy. One of the other kids found out I had candy and asked me how I got it, so I told her. We went all around town getting as much money as we could. We took it to Mom because we knew that now we were rich. I learned a good lesson that day as Mom explained that we can't take money that isn't ours even if we don't know whose it is, and I remember cranking all of our "being rich" money down into the parking meters. I would also follow around after someone who was smoking a cigarette so when he threw the butt down I could smoke it. I started school at Edina. I didn't like school since I couldn't play and do all the things I wanted to do anymore. I just couldn't understand why I had to learn the ABC's or why anyone would need to know them the wrong way.

Then during the school year, Mom told us we were moving back to the farm. I thought that was great! But things had changed. Time had passed, and I had grown up some and still had to go to school. This is the time I really missed Daddy. I knew now he wasn't going to come back to hold me anymore, and Bill was no longer around to look up to. I found out what loneliness really is. There were always people around, but it just wasn't the same. Rose and Bill no longer lived with us, but we had added Mary and Bob to the family. I still played some of the games and did some of the old things, but some things just weren't as much fun. The mud puddles weren't big enough to swim in anymore.

Before I knew it two years had passed, and Mom told us she was marrying again, and off to a new house we went. This time we moved to a four-room farmhouse in the bottomland near Gregory Landing, MO, where we had running water in the house for the first time and went to a two-room schoolhouse. Things changed fast then as I was getting to be one of the "Big Kids." There was so much more work to do as now we had not only housework but also farmwork to do and dairy cows to milk. There was milking; feeding pigs, dogs, and chickens; gathering eggs; work to do in the fields; equipment to take care of or fix in winter, and at least two gardens and sometimes three. I don't think any of us will ever forget weeding the garden. At times Mom gave us a tuna can with gas in it and told us she would pay us so much for knocking certain bugs off the plants in the garden into it. When the house had too many flies in it, she would pay us for each fly we killed and brought to her, until she found out I was killing some outside, too!

We started with eight dairy cows and increased that number through the years. I remember getting up before it was light out and trying to find the cows in the pasture, bringing them into the barnyard, and milking them. This all had to be done, and then we had to go back into the house to wash up before the school bus came to pick us up for school. Then it had to be done all over again in the evening. There was still some time to play. We found a little storage room in one of the sheds where we had club meetings. I would climb the mulberry tree to hide on the chicken house and eat mulberries or walk along the fields to watch the birds and wildlife.

Francis would take me to run the fishing lines he put out to catch catfish. We pulled in some "whoppers" using crawdaddies we had seined out of the pond. We would take the fish home to be dressed and frozen for fish fries later. Sometimes Francis' sister Ella Mae Fisher and her family would come for a fish fry and cards with Mom and Francis. We had carp and catfish, potato salad, sliced onions, and bread and butter. Then Jerry and I would take off to shoot sparrows with my BB gun, watch the birds, or see how many rabbits we could find.

Time passed, and things changed. Lil and Bernie were gone, and now we had Larry and Mona. Mom let Bob and me live in the trailer she had in a court behind a motel in Canton, as we wanted to go to Canton school. I now found I had more time for myself, and Bob was my buddy. I started working at Turner's Coffee Shop to buy some of the things I wanted such as clothes, make-up, perfume, etc., as now I am the "Big Kid."

I met and fell in love with my future husband at the Wakonda State Park. I went there to sunbathe, and he was a lifeguard there. Herman Frieden was the man of my dreams, and we were married in December 1966, when he was 18 and I was 17. The following year in July, we were blessed with a healthy, brown-eyed, dark-haired baby girl we named Brenda Kathleen. I was in a dream world. My dream world didn't last, and I awoke to find myself alone with a baby and another one on the way. On 1 September 1968, I was blessed with a brown-eyed, dark-haired, healthy baby boy I named Herman Leo, Jr., and this would have completed my dream family. But something was wrong, as I found myself stealing milk for my babies and dating too often just to have food for myself. I knew it couldn't continue so I moved in with my good in-laws. I struggled on as days passed and depression deepened. In a fit of acute depression, I left my children with people I knew would love them and take care of them, and I became a "wild child," doing almost anything short of murder. When I found I had no place to stay, my sister Lil's door was always open. I could talk or crash, stay or move on. And time passed.

While staying at Lil's, I met Richard Smith, liked him, moved in with him, and continued my wild life to a certain extent. Four years passed, time mellowed us, and we were married in March 1973. As we settled down and had a more stable, loving life, we wanted a family. By now Brenda had her own life with loving parents, Hermie, Jr., had a life with loving, adopted parents, and I wasn't having another baby. I checked into St. Joseph Hospital in Keokuk, IA, to have tests run to see why I wasn't getting pregnant. The doctor told me I couldn't have any more kids, so we resigned ourselves to that fact. It was nothing unusual for people to see us keep a nephew for up to a month at a time. To our great surprise and joy on 29 April 1980, in the very hospital where I was born, where Daddy died, and where I was told I could not have her, I gave birth to another healthy, brown-eyed, dark-haired baby girl we named Joetta Lea.

Time seems to have flown by again, and I now find myself a 50-year old woman who is at peace with the world and herself. I can truly love and accept love. I am blessed to have so many people to care about and love—Richard who has loved me enough to see me through 31 years of life together; Brenda with two daughters; Hermie, Jr., with a son and a daughter; Joetta with three daughters; Rose who is a second mother; Bill who is someone I look up to; Lil, my best friend; Bernie who is outspoken and fun to be with; Mary who is a good listener for me; Bob who is my buddy; Larry with whom I can be woodsy and old-fashioned; Mona who will always be a treasured, baby sister; Daddy who, over the years, has taught me I am never really alone; Mom who taught me that life and love are precious; all the ancestors who have given me a piece of themselves; and a loving God Who has given me my life as it has been and will be, the wisdom to learn, the acceptance of guidance from Him, and the knowledge that we will all share time together again.

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  • Created by: Lillie Riney
  • Added: 28 May 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 111333088
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Amelia Kathleen “Amy” Riney Smith (27 Nov 1949–unknown), Find A Grave Memorial no. 111333088, citing Keokuk National Cemetery, Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa, USA ; Maintained by Lillie Riney (contributor 22403448) .