Letters to the Editor

My school bus driver was political pretender

Re Fred Grimm’s Nov. 25 column, Name-game politics has a familiar ring about South Florida’s most notorious pretender to a political dynasty. It was John G. Plummer, a onetime school bus driver — my driver.

As I graduated sixth grade at Key Biscayne Elementary School in 1972, little did I imagine what would await me in September as we intrepid and obnoxious Key rats boarded the bus to Carver Jr. High. We were part of the group of students that integrated the segregated school system through mandated busing. And John Plummer was the inimitable chauffeur who carried us to our meeting with destiny.

That first day, the bus broke down at the corner of Tigertail and Southwest 27th Ave. With no phone, to call for help, Plummer sweated and fretted in his white short-sleeved shirt. The most shameless of the famously ill-behaved Key rats took this as a cue to let loose. He finally stood up in the aisle and faced us, clenching the seat backs with his hands and raising his high-pitched, nasal voice to a shout: “I ain’t gonna take no more of y’all's b......t!” He was wrong. He took it, as did all our bus drivers to come. (We went through them like cheap flip-flops in summer time.)

Years later, we learned of his utterly inexplicable feat, that of getting himself elected to public office pretending to be a member of a local political dynasty: J.L. Plummer was a city commissioner and his brother Larry Plummer was a state representative. Both were white, John G. Plummer was black.

The Distinguished Gentleman, the Eddie Murphy film which was very loosely based on Plummer’s story, was a fitting — if inaccurate — homage to an extraordinary man who will be long remembered as one of the truest keepers of the “weird” Florida flame. I am honored to have known him.

Lynn Paisley, Key Biscayne