Lawrence remembered it, too.
His mother brought him to the party and walked him inside.
As she must have feared, they were immediately stopped and told they would have to leave. Barlow's Skateland didn't admit blacks.
Despite the humiliation, Lawrence, then about 9, approached the birthday boy and held out his wrapped gift.
The white boy, who happened to be Jewish, realized Lawrence wouldn't be able to stay for the fun and cake. So he tried to refuse.
"No, man, I got it for you," Lawrence told him. And then he left with his mom.
If I hadn't attended that reunion, I wouldn't have heard that story, and I would have missed that last chance to spend some time with an old buddy.
Reunions, or the thought of them, can bog down in the trivial. We worry about how we look and whether we've been successful enough in life to make a decent impression.
We should just say the heck with that and go.
A class member commented on Facebook: "We all need to get to the reunion and see each other before it's too late. Life is too short."
Another who lives in Florida emailed to ask me to write about the reunion. (Here you go, Barry).
He observed that, like him, many class members are taking time off work, making travel arrangements and booking hotel rooms to attend.
Now they hope others will show up as well, especially those who have remained in the Kanawha Valley. If past reunions are an indication, some will not.
I'm sure people have a variety of reasons, including just lack of interest. Some may not harbor great memories of those supposedly golden high school years.
I talked with one local classmate this week who is still thinking about it.
She lost her husband a year and a half ago. She wants to see old friends but dreads the expressions of sympathy. That still tears her up. She realizes people don't know what else to say, but she's had enough of that.
When her husband was ill and the two of them realized they soon would part, they expressed the wish that they had spent more time just valuing each other.
I was struck by her words, and it occurs to me the thought also could apply to the reunion.
Growing up in the same part of town with similar experiences somehow molded our class in 413 different ways. But there is value in those shared roots.
Friend is editor and publisher of the Daily Mail. She may be reached at 348-5124 or nan...@dailymail.com.