A Plaque for the Emperor (With His Birth Date in Bronze)
On a beautiful if blustery afternoon yesterday in Colma, about 40 friends of Emperor Norton gathered for the laying of a special historical plaque for the Emperor at Home of Peace — the cemetery of Congregation Emanu-El, where the Emperor attended synagogue every Saturday.
The setting for the plaque is fabulous: It now is the centerpiece of an existing circular stone "platform" with an inlaid abalone Star of David, situated in a lovely spot of lawn with a backdrop of tall palms.
The Emperor's Bridge Campaign is honored to have been able to contribute to the fund for the plaque.
he afternoon, organized independently by our Advisor, Judi Leff, included plaque ceremony comments by Judi; Rabbi Beth Singer, of the Congregation; Joseph Amster (as Emperor Norton); and John Lumea, of the Campaign.
Joe Kaline, of the Sons of Emperor Norton band, sang a lovely ballad of theirs, "Joshua's Hymn." And Rick Saber, who portrays the Emperor for the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, a.k.a. the Clampers, bestowed the traditional Clamper dedication by pouring "the healing waters" (a bottle of beer) over the plaque.
Afterward — indoors! — Peter Moylan presented his "living documentary" of Emperor Norton, featuring Joseph Amster as the Emperor. And John Rothmann offered a wonderful recollection of his participation in the 1979 mock trial by the Court of Historical Review, which found that the Emperor should have been given a Jewish funeral and burial.
Then we ate cake.
A wonderful afternoon! Thank you, Judi, for making it happen!
Well worth noting: This past February, the Campaign made the case for 4 February 1818 as Joshua Norton's birth date (here and here). Judi was a key participant in our research project on that question; and her discovery of a supporting circumcision record provided important confirmation of the date to which a significant body of other evidence already was pointing.
The plaque features 4 February 1818 as the birth date for Joshua Norton — almost certainly the first permanent memorial to do so.
A final footnote: Some fittings are required in order to make the plaque truly permanent (read: theftproof). So, if you drive to Colma today, you won't find the plaque. Watch this space for notice that it's there for all to see.
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