After the war, the family moved to Marblehead, Massachusetts. Barnes started his education in the Marblehead public schools, being taught by several wonderful Irish Catholic single women in their mid-50s. There was lots of memorization and to this day he can recite the 26 helping verbs and several verses of “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Longfellow. An early lesson he recalls from his parents: “Love your siblings. Because, as life unfolds, they may be your closest friends. That’s certainly how it’s worked out for us.”
Barnes has described himself as “educationally privileged.” In 1953 he began four years at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He became a goalie on the lacrosse team and was named captain, MVP and All-New England first team his senior year. He enjoyed singing and was a second bass in the glee club, the choir, and in an a capella double-quartet. In 1956, he applied to the American Field Service summer abroad program and was assigned to Norway. On the Atlantic ship’s voyage, he befriended two young men from Oregon who were also headed to Norway. In August, the Norwegian group joined with some 600 other students in Paris for a gathering before boarding ship back to the U.S. Barnes was strolling the Champs Élysée with his Oregon friend Bill Farrens when Bill spied an Oregon City girl he knew. Molly Cleland was buying a bottle of Je Reviens in a small perfume shop. Bill introduced them, and Barnes was instantly smitten. Later in the day, he and Molly shared a taxi ride back to the Lysée Michelet where the AFS students were staying. Barnes used his “limited Exeter French” to instruct the driver. He recalls, “My new friend did not make a point of the fact that she spoke the language fluently.” It was the start of a connection that extended over the voyage home and ultimately for a lifetime.
Barnes returned to Exeter and went from being an okay student to an honor student. His teachers and visiting lecturers, (ranging from Robert Frost to Robert Oppenheimer) ignited a new curiosity about the larger world. In 1957 he entered Yale. He continued as a lacrosse goalie, and in senior year was team captain, MVP, All-New England, and honorable mention All-American. Looking back on his lacrosse days, Barnes sees the sport as good life training. Nervous at the start of most games, he learned how to control his anxiety. He understood that goaltending required complete attention to what was happening around and beyond him, since a goalie’s mistake is immediate and painful to the entire team. Preparation and concentration were vital.
Barnes continued his interest in singing and is a member of the Class of 1961 Whiffenpoofs (the country’s oldest collegiate a capella group). His friend, Bart Giamatti (future president of Yale and commissioner of Major League Baseball) took him to the Italian section of New Haven and introduced him to an unfamiliar food; pizza.
During his first two years he participated in Directed Studies, a seminar cluster of courses combining history, graphic arts, science, and literature. He especially enjoyed American history with Professor Martin Duberman and art history with Professor Vincent Scully. He wrote two or three papers a week, which was a great stimulus to reading with focus. An English literature major, he considered pursuing a doctorate and teaching, but says the world was spared from that when he decided to study law instead.