Old vs New


I love old cars and old houses. Given my childhood, it’s strange that I would favor old over new.

After our house burned down when I was in the ninth grade, I never had an indoor bathroom or running water in my house until after I left home. Back then, I was embarrassed by the holes in my jeans. Nowadays, I would be in style.

We never thought of ourselves as poor, yet my mother never had enough money for groceries or new clothes and new shoes for our family. I went to school often with the soles of my shoes held on with a thick rubber band from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper.

We lived briefly in an old antebellum house in Georgia that Sherman missed on his march to the sea. One winter the roof fell down in my brothers’ bedroom. Bees lived in the walls of the bedroom I shared with my sisters. We frequently got stung. There was no heating in the house. Nor was there a bathroom or any running water. We carried water from town in empty milk jugs. The house was so cold in the winter that the jugs of water lined up in the kitchen froze. We had to use that frozen water to take a sponge bath with before we left for school.

As bad as living conditions were in that house, it had a classic beauty that I loved. And it was an improvement over the unfinished log cabin in Splendora, Texas. That house had only half a roof and when a hurricane came inland from the Gulf, the water in the house was so deep that our grandmother had to stand on a folding metal chair to cook for us kids. We were on the only bed in the house and the water level was up to the mattress. My grandmother was scared to death of snakes, but when a poisonous water moccasin floated into the cabin and across to the bed where we kids huddled, my grandmother went after that snake with a broom. The goats and chickens came into the cabin with us to get out of the rain—which was funny since we were nearly as wet as they were.

Then there was the plywood shell of a house in the Texas Hill Country…it had a finished roof, but a dirt floor. No heating, no air conditioning, no running water or indoor plumbing.

Still, I love old houses and old cars. The craftsmen who built them followed their eye for beauty and the integrity of their hearts to produce a legacy.

However, growing up in old houses with no heat in the winter might explain why I hate cold and winter now.

Still, when I see a classic old vehicle or pass a historic old home, my heart trespasses into another era.

Not so with my flesh. New visits of pain and weakness get no welcome from me. I remember what Jesus said—warned? “When you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” John 21:18.

I’ll pick an old car or an old house over an old body any day!

Amazon.com: Stephanie Parker McKean: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

2 thoughts on “Old vs New

  1. Steph, this is such an evocative post. You had it tough as a child, you really did, but I love the fact you appreciate the beauty of these crumbling homes as well. I clearly remember ice on the inside of our windows when I was a child. We too had no heating other than a coal fire in our living room, but yes, our house was also lovely. The old body bit just comes with the territory of age, although you’ve had so much more physical pain and trouble than I have. Sending you much love, hugs and healing thoughts, my friend. xxxx

    • You are amazing, Val, and a totally amazing friend. Thank you so much. The healing thoughts and prayers are working because I’m fine now. I am thankful every day for every step I can take – without crutches! Hope you have a lovely warm Christmas.

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