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As a child I lived with my grandparents a great deal of the time and I loved them very much. One evening I happened to ask my grandfather, John Albert Smith, “What will I do when you and Grandma die?”
He replied, “Don’t worry, child. We will watch over you always.
They both passed away before I was married, but life went on as usual. In 1939 my husband and I were living in an old, four-room house in West Liberty, lowa. The kitchen was heated by an old wood and coal range, with the stove pipe going up through the first floor to a chimney in the upstairs hallway.
My husband, Walter, would get up first, build the fire, fixhis breakfast, and leave for work before 6:30 A.M. One winter morning I heard him go downstairs, shake up the stove, and slam the door on his way out. Before going back to sleep I glanced over toward the crib to see if the baby was covered.
There stood my grandfather. He was clean-shaven except for his thick gray mustache. He smiled as he started toward my bed. Terrified and trembling like a leaf, I yanked the covers over my head. Soon I felt someone shake my shoulder in the same way Grandfather used to shake it.
Then I heard Grandfather’s voice saying, “Come on, girl. It’s time to get up.” He spoke in Czech, a language I had not used in years. I was so frightened I could hardly breathe, but after a while I became brave enough to peek out.
No one was there. I jumped out of bed and hurried downstairs, where I discovered a dangerous situation. The top of the stove was red hot and the stove pipe was red almost to the floor. In a few more minutes it would have caught fire.
Had I slept as long as usual that morning the baby and I have been trapped upstairs. That was the only time my husband forgot to close the draft before leaving for work. But Grandfather did not forget, and he came to take care of me as he had promised.