Spotlight: Vicki Sunderman (Vic)

By Nancy Polanski (nap) on November 1, 2010

Vicki Sunderman is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. I found her to be extremely pleasant to chat with through our Cmail exchanges recently. Now I'm pleased to introduce her to all of you.

NP: Welcome, Vicki! It's so nice of you to allow us to get to know you. I guess we'll start out the way I usually begin my chats, by asking you about your early years. Have you any special memories?

Vic: I was born in Richmond, Indiana in 1950 and I have one sister 4 years older than I. My father worked in a factory. It w2010-10-30/nap/96c830as a school bus factory and his job was to do the black lettering and stripes you see on a school bus. It involved lots of masking tape. My mother was a SAHM (stay at home mom). She made all our clothes and knitted all our sweaters, mittens, scarves, etc. I still have two ponchos that she knitted in the late 60’s, early 70’s. She was an excellent cook and baker. At Christmas she would make candy. Fudge, pecan logs, chocolate covered cherries, date nut rolls, divinity. It was so good.

We lived in the city but had two 2010-10-30/nap/6c2335wonderful huge parks where our parents would take us often for picnics, kite flying, and playing. I was very much a tomboy growing up. Although I did have dolls and played house, I much preferred climbing trees and riding my bike.

I graduated from high school in 1968 and moved to Dayton, Ohio and got a job as a secretary at United Aircraft Products in the engineering department. One of the engineers I worked for looked just like Troy Donahue. He was so cute and he asked me for a date. We fell in love and were married May 17, 1969. He later told me the day I walked into the engineering department, he told a co-worker – “I’m going to marry that girl.”

We now have three daughters, three grand-daughters and three wonderful sons-in-law. Our daughters were born December of 1970, September of 1972 and December of 1977.

NP: So you were enchanted by the Troy Donahue look, huh? I will admit, he was one 2010-10-30/nap/544abbvery handsome actor. I wanted to be Sandra Dee in “A Summer Place!” I'll bet you did too! Tell me more about Hank and you.

Vic: Hank wasn’t happy sitting at a desk as an engineer. UAP was a small engineering firm and some of the things they designed and built were bleeder valves and heat exchangers that were on Apollo 11 that landed on the moon. So he left to go into the building business, as his father was a builder as well, and Hank pretty much had a hammer in his hand since he was seven years old. He once told me he was asked what he wanted for his birthday and he said he wanted the lumber truck to come so he could build. He was five years old.

Our first year of marriage we lived in a three story boarding house in Dayton Ohio. Hank made the first floor into a one bedroom apartment for us and we rented the 2nd and 3rd floors to University of Dayton Students.
From there we moved to Beavercree, Ohio, which is an eastern suburb of Dayton, and lived there six years. Our oldest two daughters were born during our time in Beavercreek. There was a budgetary cutback at UAP and I was laid off, which was fine as I was pregnant with our oldest daughter by this time, so I became a SAHM.

We then bought seven acres south of Xenia OH which is southeast of Beavercreek. We built a 5000 square foot barn and lived in it for four years while we were building our home.

The barn was three stories, post and beam con2010-10-30/nap/06a43dstruction, all oak in the rough that we were able to buy for 18 cents a board foot. It was a bank barn.

NP: So you lived in that barn for four years!

Vic: We lived in 1200 square feet of the middle floor with the first floor being Hank’s shop and the loft was storage. Our youngest daughter was born while we lived there and while she was born in a hospital, we always told her she was born in a barn.

As for the home we were building while we lived in the barn, Hank made all the doors, casing, baseboard, newel posts, banisters, vanities, kitchen cabinets, and wood floors. He made all those things for our present house as well.

NP: Sounds like a very2010-10-30/nap/662f3e busy time in your lives. Were you ever able to get back into the workforce yourself?

Vic: I went to work at a vocational school when youngest daughter started school. I started out as a secretary in the guidance office and then into the technology office as our school jumped into the computer age in the early 90’s.

As our daughters finished high school and went on to college, army, and work, we decided we were ready to move to a warmer climate and found the property where we now live. It has 21 acres, most of which is woods. This home also took four years to build although I was not involved with this one at all. I worked during the time Hank built this. He would come down here weeks at a time with a trailer load of ma2010-10-30/nap/85b400terials and when that material was done, come back to Ohio and start over again.

NP: Did you get to go on any vacations with the kids, since you and Hank had such a busy schedule?

Vic: When the children were growing up, many of our vacations were in KY state parks and a few at Myrtle Beach, SC. We always camped when we vacationed. I LOVE to camp. We also took them to Washington DC and camped in VA. On this vacation, we lost our youngest daughter in our nation’s Capitol. She ducked under the ropes. Fortunately, we found her before I had a chance to totally freak out.

Hank and I went “out west” after the children were grown and my favorite part of that vacation was Glacier National Park. We did an overnight where you check in with the ranger and get bear bags to keep your food in. You hike for hours up to the Glacier, spend the night, and return the next day. I was hoping to see a bear but we didn’t. That trip also included Yellowstone, Badlands, Arches, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, White Sands.
Another cool part of this trip was a visit to Buhl, Idaho. My maiden name is Buhl and when my ancestors arrived from Germany, they settled in Pittsburgh, PA. One stayed in Pittsburgh which is where the Buhl Planetarium is, one went to Richmond, IN and built a tavern called Buhl Tavern, and one went to Idaho and the little town is named after him. It was so cool to see schools, parks, police stations with my name of them – LOL!

We also did a bus tour of Mexico that began with Mexico City and ended in Cancun. It was called the Ancient tour and was just beautiful.

NP: What do you enjoy doing with your spare time now? Read, cook, crafts?

Vic: My favorite thing would be walking in the woods. When I see trees, flowers, streams – all things God made, it brings joy to my heart.

I love jigsaw puzzles, reading, an2010-10-30/nap/f3fc86d the computer for inside things to do. A book I read everyday is the Bible and if I could only ever have one book, I would choose the Bible. That said, I’ve been a reader since I was a young child, beginning with “flicka, ricka, dicka” series to Nancy Drew, and I think even some of the Hardy Boys. We didn’t have television until I was ten, so that may be why I read so much. I do love that when you read you can visit so many places, and I prefer my imagination to a movie. I am at the library every two weeks and I read at least two and sometimes three books every two weeks. I read a lot of books about the Amish as I so admire their lifestyle.

I LOVE to cook and bake and I make most of everything we eat from scratch and grow some of it. Now that we are older, I don’t bake like2010-10-30/nap/25dbae I used to, so I’m always excited when people visit as it gives me an excuse to bake. Many years ago, I did lots of crafts like macramé and paper toll. I do crochet on occasion and while my mother taught me how to knit, I didn’t stay with it and have forgotten. I did quite a bit of sewing when the girls were young and it is something I hope to get back to.

Pets are a big part of my life and are very special to me. When we moved to NC, we had three cats and two dogs and all have gone to God’s front yard, which is where I believe pets go when they die. Two of the cats lived to be 18 and 22. We now have one dog, Gussie Mae, aka Miss Gus who owns us and is just sure she is the alpha dog of the family. We also babysit our grand dog Pete2010-10-30/nap/74ef72 and he is such a joy. Pets are loyal companions that love us no matter what and bring us such peace. When I was in radiation treatment after breast cancer, I would come home everyday from radiation to rest as it is quite tiring and Oreo cat would jump in bed with me and curl up next to me and it just made me feel so peaceful.

NP: We share many of the same feelings, you and I. How about Cubits? You've been here since it's beginning. Like many of us, you started with Dave's Garden, didn't you?

Vic: I found Dave's Garden on July 1, 2001 while Googling information about plants. I joined the day I found it and a whole new world started for me. I’ve learned more about gardening than I thought possible. I’m so happy2010-10-30/nap/7a25e4 and content when I’m on my knees in the garden and my hands are in the soil. My father loved gardening as well and grew vegetables as well as flowers. Roses were his area of expertise. The friendships I’ve formed from DG, well, I have no words for how special so many of these folks are to me. I came to Cubits as soon as I heard about it. Hank and I have met Dave and Trish when they lived in TN and I can tell you from the recent pictures of when their new baby was born, they haven’t changed a bit. Ok, Dave is maybe showing a bit of his age but Trish looks exactly the same. Again, I have no words for the gratitude I have for them for bringing so many wonderful people and joys into my life. I am eternally grateful. I also attended the first ever DG round up in TN which Dave and Trish also attended.

NP: How fortunate you are, Vic. I wish we could all have the chance to meet Dave and Trish someday. Have you ever met any other famous people?

Vic: One of my daughters and I are avid Rod Stewart fans and we have attended many of his concerts. On July 6, 2005, my 55th birthday, she treated me to a Rod concert in Charlotte, NC. It was an outdoor venue and we had seats very very close to the stage. The guards were kind enough to allow some of us to walk close to the stage. My daughter had made a huge sign that said “My mom is 55 years old today.” So we’re very close to the stage, Rod is singing Downtown Train, I notice he’s looking right behind me – dd has this sign over my head – and he looks me right in the eyes, stops the song, and says – “Happy Birthday Mum” I’m sure my face turned 14 shades of red and purple.

NP: Awesome!~ Now you've got me grinning! And tell me who you would like to meet if you had a chance?

Vic: I would love to have met Mother Theresa. She was the epitome of what all humans should be. She helped the sickest of the sick and the poorest of the poor and never ever judged 2010-10-30/nap/e994d0anyone.

NP: Who else has inspired you?

Vic: Oh Sheesh, so many people. If I could live my life like Jesus did, wow, wouldn’t that be wonderful? So He is definitely my first inspiration. So many folks in the DG and Cubits community have not only touched my heart and soul but they inspire me because of their immense talents and inspire me to be a better person. My children inspire me. They are such intelligent, creative, and caring individuals. My husband inspires me in that he challenges me to do things I would never attempt on my own, like jumping into a hot air balloon. The Book of Proverbs inspires me to be better and be humble. My parents inspired me in that they taught me about unconditional love and acceptance. My sister inspires me because she is so protective of me. I would think my life perfect if I was just a small reflection of the people in my life that I love so much.

I have some favorite quotes …. “Time slips, Days pass, Years fade, Life ends. What we came to do must be done while there is time.” I think this quote is from Max Lucado but I’m not sure.

Another is from a book I read many years ago by Taylor Caldwell and while I remember nothing about the story in the book, I remember the quote “In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God.” It reminds that no matter how bad things might get, God is alw2010-10-30/nap/9d9f9eays right there to hold my hand. I’m blessed in that I’ve never had a lot of “dark nights” in my life, but for the times that I did, I know God was there to help me.

My parents continually said two things and they sort of mean the same thing. Mom always said “This too shall pass” and Dad always said “A hundred years from now, you’ll never know the difference” So when things get a little wonky in my life, I remember that and move on.

NP: One final question for you, Vic. At the end of the day, what is it that makes you truly happy?

Vic: What truly makes me happy at the end of the day is that my family is happy, healthy, safe, and have peace on their hearts. The things that touch my heart are the simpler the better – I tend to be tender-hearted in that I get weepy when I hear our National Anthem, see children waving the American flag in a parade, puppies, kittens and babies – not necessarily in that order. Also, the smell of bread baking, sheets that have hung on the line in sun and wind, the smell of the air after a summer shower, cold clear crystal nights when the sky is midnight velvet blue and the stars are shining and there is the wisp of wood smoke in the air, coming into the house from the cold, the smell of something simmering on the stove, and all things in nature that God made.

NP: There's really nothing more I can say after that very beautiful ending. Only this ….. Thank you, Vic, for being our guest today.

If you rest your mouse over Vicki's photos, you'll see her descriptions of them. They will enlarge when you click on them. You may leave your thoughts for her in the Comments area below. I'm pleased that you have visited our Cubit today. Please come back often!

Related articles:
biography, garden, interview, nature, spotlight

About Nancy Polanski
I live in Western New York. I'm retired, after working for 30 years in the Microbiology Labs at our county hospital. My time now is spent mostly with the Karen refugee population in Buffalo, advocating for them, teaching, helping and enjoying them. I've twice traveled to their camps in Thailand and experienced their culture. It seems they have taught me more about life than I have taught them.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
My Mom Casi89 Nov 11, 2010 3:00 PM 15
Enjoyed this! weeds Nov 9, 2010 4:45 PM 7
Oh Yeah!!! Sharon Nov 9, 2010 7:18 AM 23
Wonderful! Henryr10 Nov 6, 2010 7:30 PM 2
Wonderful kaglic Nov 5, 2010 1:52 PM 1
ready to visit so you can bake! Lance Nov 5, 2010 1:48 PM 2
Great!! AnnaZ Nov 5, 2010 1:44 PM 1

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