Tools of the Day – Then and Now

My father, Woodrow Vancil, died at age 30, a promising young architect. He worked with the drafting tools you see at the left in this photo. Compasses, proportional dividers, precision pencil tips, some parts missing, all stored comfortably in a time weathered carrying case. Next to them are the tools I use today. An automatic pencil for note taking and a wireless computer mouse, connected to graphic design programs and word processing software.
My dad designed just one building which reached the final construction phase before his death. He left several other works unfinished. That building, a roller rink, stood for years near the city limits of Kewanee, Illinois, until one day it burned down.

I cannot help but muse, what my father’s life might have been had he not died at such an early age, what he might have done with the computer software we have today, the CAD programs, the digital marvels that would have allowed him to do his work in minutes, instead of taking many exhausting hours of drawing, erasing, drawing again, erasing again. . . drawing again. I’ve come to realize it’s pointless to play the “what if” game in regard to the past. We cannot change history.

My father worked with the tools of the day, as do I. Sure, he could have designed the roller rink much faster if he’d had a computer program, drawing circles with a click instead of a compass. However, I doubt if the end result would have been any better.

2 thoughts on “Tools of the Day – Then and Now

  1. Sandi says:

    “What If” is a powerful question no matter what way you look at it. If we What If’d everything, there would be nothing to dream on, no imagination coming to fruition. As someone who writes and was a radio announcer, I am surprised for you to call the game What Ifing pointless. It’s everything. Of all the places in the world you can visit, visiting the Imagine Nation is the most glorious. That is where your Dad, my Dad and everyone else’s Dads are…peering somehow into our lives and watching our hands/thoughts/dreams they once had in the life come true through ours…happy trails to the Imagine Nation ❤ sandi


    • billvancil says:

      Sandi ~ I’m afraid you missed my point. My reference to “what if” was in regard only to the past. “What if…Kennedy had not been shot. What if my dad had a computer…” I did not mean we should not “what if” in regard to planning or dreaming about the future. I’m all about imagination. It’s what I thrive on. I’m not sure what to make of your Imagine Nation, but it doesn’t sound like a bad place to be.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s