The Ford family has provided those of us who cover the news in Memphis with a wealth of salacious, scandalous and tawdry stories over the years, and human nature often finds us reveling in the downfall of the wealthy, powerful and connected. But we mustn't forget that the Fords are real people with real families who bear the consequences of their mistakes. Victoria Ford, daughter of former longtime Tennessee state senator and current federal prison inmate
John Ford and an abusive, alcoholic mother, channeled the pain and embarrassment of her parents' misfortune into a powerful literary voice, one that has garnered her a prestigious award as she prepares to enter the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. The New York Times told Victoria's story in Sunday's editions.
On Tuesday, at a ceremony in Manhattan, she will be presented with a $10,000 scholarship and a Scholastic Art and Writing Award,
an honor previously won by Truman Capote, Joyce Carol Oates and Sylvia
Plath. In the fall, she will enter the University of Pennsylvania.
Victoria herself cannot fully explain her unsinkable nature. "I had no
choice," she said. "I'd wake up in the morning, go to school, do well
and then the same thing the next day." Her lowest grade was 92 in
With both parents incarcerated and their home in foreclosure, Victoria and her siblings were in danger of being placed in foster care.
Her aunt Megan Mitchell-Hoefer, an elementary school principal here in Greenville, saved them from foster care.
"I called Aunt Megan one night from my room," Victoria said. "I told her
there's no time, and I don't know what to do. I hung up and a few days
Ms. Mitchell-Hoefer did not want to be another person making flimsy
promises. "I wanted to drop everything," she said. "But I just had a
child. I needed to speak to my husband."
He said of course. Ms. Mitchell-Hoefer brought along their 4-month-old
on the 10-hour drive to Memphis. "I called from the car," the aunt said.
"I told her I'm on the way."
That was four years ago. Victoria and her siblings have lived with their hero aunt's family since.
Victoria had hoped that her father, whose prison sentence recently was greatly reduced, would be able to attend Tuesday's ceremony. He was not.