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Vn60.1 Surprise Party 8/8/77

Spoiled by living in the air-conditioned comfort of our Connecticut
home during the mid-July heat wave, when the next spell of hot weather
found us in the hot air heated loft of our Boston carriage house little
persuading was needed to induce Gretchen to join Miriam and me at Logo
yesterday. With the hot weather continuing and both children expecting
to do an experiment this morning, it was a natural consequence that
Gretchen should join us at her later convenience, bringing lunch if she
so chose, and plan to spend the afternoon at the lab.

We three gave Gretchen birthday presents, wished her happy birth-
day, and sped off to our morning’s work at Logo. As we drove across
town in the MG, I broached the idea of a surprise party with the chil-
dren. They were as enthusiastic as I was and far more certain that it
would work out.

We completed our morning’s experiment, enjoyed together the lunch
Gretchen brought a little later, and settled down each to his afternoon’s
occupation: the children browbeat Margaret Minsky to carry them around
and played at frisbee with the students of the HSSP; I worked at data
transcription; and Gretchen read a book newly selected from the library.
I had alerted a few friends and hoped others would drop by the lab in
the afternoon. Since the children and I planned to get an ice-cream
birthday cake, we had to concoct some plausible excuse for the three of
us to ride off leaving Gretchen behind at Logo. My script’s argument
called for moving the MG from a block away to the Tech Square lot to
render easier carrying down to the car the remains of lunch, my recor-
ding equipment, and so forth. The children were to set up a cry in
their normal fashion that they wanted to go for a ride with me.

Our little ruse worked a little bit, for Gretchen surely knew it
was her birthday and the children kept approaching me to whisper, “Is
it time to go get the cake?” The circumstance that gave away the secret
was unforseeable. We moved the MG at 3 o’clock, thereby escaping the
earlier ban on cars without the appropriate parking stickers. Gretchen
said her car was parked on the street right in front of mine and she
should walk along to move hers also. I tendered some completely inade-
quate reason for not doing so, and Gretchen was sufficiently insightful
not to push the argument.

We picked out a cake at Baskin-Robbins. Robby held the cake on
the way back (the privileged function) and Miriam rode in the boot (the
seat of choice). We gathered a collection of dishes, forks, and friends
and sprung our surprise on Gretchen. She was pleased.

As is the case with most Logo parties, as many people were absent
as present; the place seems sometimes a crossroads in the paths of
over-committed people, but Andy, Donna, Margaret, Marvin, José, and the
children and I met the challenge of consuming Gretchen’s birthday cake.

Relevance
This vignette shows the children in preparing a surprise birthday
party. This informal party was more or less typical of those at Logo
in that the summer dispersion and other commitments kept the size
small and made the guest list a nearly random selection of people from
the lab.

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