Articles written by Barb Johannesen

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  • I'm finally seeing my name in lights

    Barb Johannesen|Updated Aug 9, 2023

    Lately, no matter where you look, it’s Barbie, Barbie, Barbie. The hugely popular new “Barbie” movie has scores of people writing and speaking a name that is so deeply rooted in the mid-century that you probably can’t think of a single baby named Barbara. Not now, and more than likely, not in the past several decades. That doesn’t matter, though, because the movie has made my name (at least in a diminutive form) and the toy that also bears it wildly relevant again. And that...

  • Gift of kindness lives on

    Barb Johannesen|Updated Aug 17, 2022

    When my oldest child Brian was a baby, I befriended a Hinsdale woman of my mother's generation named Rose. She gave me loads of practical advice about baby care and even babysat Brian at our home during what turned out to be strange and historical circumstances when a fire in a Hinsdale telephone center cut off most phone service in the surrounding area. My maternity leave ended when the outage began and, lacking access to a satellite phone, I was unable to call home from...

  • Flying the less friendly skies

    Barb Johannesen|Updated Jul 14, 2021

    My brother-in-law recalls a time in the early '60s when flying to a vacation destination with his parents meant wearing a suit. He was 8 or 9 years old. Everyone laughs along with him when it's brought up, because seeing a child dressed so formally for a flight these days would be something of an oddity. And yet, I have to admire the implied degree of respect for air travel that existed back when flying was more of a novelty. Now that commercial passenger flights have become...

  • Travel in the age of COVID-19

    Barb Johannesen|Updated Aug 26, 2020

    Even in the best of times, I'm a bit squeamish about breathing the shared air in an airplane cabin. If my fellow passengers start coughing and sneezing around me, I try to keep my mind off of germs floating in my direction by focusing on a good book and taking calming breaths (but, given the situation, not deep ones.) And there's generally some rationalization on my part, too. I've survived colds and flus countless times, so what's the big deal? I wasn't sure that philosophy...