Life history of Linda

by Jacob Holdt

Note: I am in the process of making the photographic life stories of all
the people in my book. Here they will tell their own stories (on video), but none are
finished yet. Others: Mary, Alphonso, Tommy Howard, Tony Harris.




Since Linda has spent most of her adult life in prison I have not been able to follow her life photographically as much as most of my other friends.
Click on photos for enlargements.


Det første lys i Lindas shack i Florida
I am bringing kerosene for her family in 1974 - the first
time ever they had light in her shack.


Linda with her white doll in 1974


Linda reading in the kerosene light. Before that
she had only read in the moon light.


1978. My first visit back after my book was published.
After her mother's mental illness, Linda is now in the foster
care of a very strict aunt who would not let me take Linda to Disneyland and hardly let me speak to her. The aunt looks at
my book while Linda nervously peeps out the doorway.


1984. After that Linda was so devastated from crack when
I came to see her that I drove away each time deeply depressed .
The crack abuse was taking such a toll on her that I couldn't get
myself to photograph her. But after her first prison term I took
her with me on one of my tours in Florida, as seen here.


1985. While I looked for Linda in the crack infested areas of
Florida I ended up in a crack house myself. I got to stay with
the ex-girlfriend of Linda's brother, Robert. Inez was herself
a crack addict and had all her children taken away from her. Here
she is washing over a pot in the small one room shack with no running water, but plenty of flowing cocaine. I took her with me to see my
show in University of Florida. Inez was deeply moved by the scenes of Linda's and Robert's childhood which seemed so much like her own. Today she is free of crack and herself a student in a Florida
university - and helps via e-mail to keep me informed about Linda. 
More photos of Inez.


1994. On my next trips to Florida I could usually not find her
in her crack houses or because she was in prison. But in 1994
I had a lucky break when I picked up a hitchhiker. During the
drive I showed him my book and he then told me that he was
Linda's boyfriend, Tommy, and on his way to the prison
to see her. It was a miracle: out of 25 million people in
Florida I had run into the one and only who knew where Linda was!

Here I am with Linda in the prison yard. During my
visit Linda grabbed my hand and said: "Please help me."
But I had often in her wildest crack years tried to get
her into the American Pictures work group with no luck.
And now I had no money any more to help her out with.
Only my friendship.


2003. Here she is 9 years later with her boyfriend Tommy
- the hitchhiker I had picked up and the only stable support
in her life. No matter how long she is in prison he is always
there for her - the love of her life.

2003. Reunited after 9 years where I couldn't find her.


On a drive with me to get beer for the occasion.


During the drive we had to go by her parole officer.
However, a few weeks after my visit she ended
up in prison again.


Linda breaks down crying when she shows her son the
pictures of her in my book. I had given her many copies
of it before, but she had lost them all in crack houses and
prison. So this was the first time her children saw pictures
of her poverty stricken childhood.


With her two sons in the backyard.


There is so much love between Linda and her sons
- perhaps because they spent so little time together
during all her years in prison.


Linda with her son, Michael, who is himself
now in prison.


Michael had seen Rikke in a TV-show and so was very
impressed meeting her.


2003. Latest portrait of Linda.

My correspondance with Linda after she went back to prison.

  Copyright © 2003 Jacob Holdt


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