The Legendary Johnny Barnes; Hamilton, Bermuda
Meet the legendary Johnny Barnes of Bermuda. Legend is often an overused superlative, but not in this case. Just about everyone living on this small island in the Atlantic Ocean knows who Johnny is and adores him. They’ve even erected a bronze statue in his honor.
Johnny, now in his late 80s, enjoys making other people happy. He’s made it his full-time job. Every weekday morning, rain or shine, Johnny spends about six hours – starting at 4 a.m. — on a small patch of grass adjacent to the Foot of the Lane roundabout leading into Hamilton, the largest city in Bermuda.
With his trademark straw hat and gray beard, Johnny greets each car heading into town with a smile, wave or a blown kiss. You’ll also hear him call out “have a good day” or even “I love you.” Johnny just wants to do his part to help everyone’s morning get off to the best start possible.
Johnny is long-since retired from jobs as an electrician for the Bermuda Railroad and a bus driver. Now living on a pension, he still wants to feel useful.
Bermudans are so appreciative, in 1998 a group of businessmen spent about $70,000 to put up a life-sized statue of him. It’s just a few feet down the road from where the real Johnny welcomes commuters each day.
I spent several minutes watching Johnny and had to wait for a lull in traffic before I could get him to pose for a picture. He didn’t want to miss the chance to greet even one car and spread his unique brand of goodwill.
Editor’s note: Sadly, Mr. Barnes passed away in 2016. He was 93.
Copyright © Dan Fellner 2012