AN EMAIL ARRIVED: “I’m writing a book about a woman named Linda Taylor, who was known as the ‘welfare queen’ in Chicago in the 1970s,” wrote Josh Levin, editorial director of the online magazine Slate. Ronald Reagan helped make her infamous in his campaign speeches when he was running for president, vilifying her as a con artist who picked up multiple welfare checks and food stamps in her Cadillac. Although Reagan exaggerated, it turns out there really was such a person.
Then Mr. Levin dropped the bomb that she once lived in Esto:
After her period of infamy, she moved to Florida and changed her identity, going by the name Linda Lynch. She lived in Esto (or just outside Esto) around 1985 — it was at the intersection of Hwy. 79 and Hwy. 2, and I’ve seen it described as the ‘old Pelham Farm.’
The property Linda Lynch bought was foreclosed on in October 1985, which means she was probably there for about six months. She was mixed race, and she had two older black people living there with her.
I’m wondering if any of this rings a bell for you or if you might know someone (or some people) who remember her.
Well. Here was a piece of unlikely Esto history I’d never heard — and wouldn’t have believed, if he hadn’t attached evidence.
Mr. Levin has now talked to at least two local residents who knew the woman during the brief time she lived near Miller’s Crossroads. We eagerly await his book.
Meanwhile, here’s an extensive article he wrote about her earlier exploits in Chicago.