Williston store offers trip down memory lane

March 22, 2010  
Filed under Business

By Tim Simard
Observer staff

Taft Corners Shopping Center’s newest store offers customers a nostalgic trip into the past.
Barton’s Memory Lane opened last month, bringing the 17-year-old jewelry and antique business to Williston from Essex Junction. Owner Catharine McMaster said her new location already attracted interested customers unfamiliar with her business.

“For me, this is the perfect place,” McMaster said. “I’m staying here, that’s for certain.”
The store sells vintage jewelry, including precious and semi-precious stones, as well as gold and diamonds. McMaster said people routinely come into her store and sell their antique ornaments, generally family heirlooms they no longer want. McMaster cleans them up and sells them back to the public. Prices for different pieces range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars.

It’s a family business as well. Her son Dan, a schoolteacher in Portland, Maine, attends auctions up and down the New England seacoast to find the best stones and jewelry sets.

“You’d never believe what beautiful pieces we find,” McMaster said.

Barton’s Memory Lane started 17 years ago in Barton when McMaster and her husband opened an antique business while owning a bed and breakfast in town. When McMaster accepted a job as music and choir director for the First Congregational Church in Essex, she moved her store to Essex Junction, where it lasted for about a year.

The location in Five Corners proved difficult for business and she started looking elsewhere. She discovered the empty storefront at Taft Corners and thought it would be a perfect fit. She believes her store complements the other businesses located in the shopping center.

Her location in Williston is smaller than the Essex Junction shop. McMaster said her new store allows her to focus on the jewelry aspect of the business, while keeping a few pieces of antique dinnerware and furniture available.

McMaster said a recent customer summed up her business best the other morning.

“She said to me, ‘What an intimate shopping experience,’” McMaster said. “I think I might use that as a slogan. I just loved that!”

Barton’s Memory Lane is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 673-5086 for more information.

Want To Make Your Parents Healthier? Get Them a Pet!

March 22, 2010  
Filed under Aging Parents

By Dr. David Lipschitz

One of the worst parts of advancing age is the gradual loss of contact with those we love. As baby boomers, many of us first lose our children to college, then to spouses and ultimately to grandchildren.

As we age further, some of us will become frail, dependent on others for transportation and might need help with the simple tasks of daily life. One thing leads to another, and it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid loneliness and isolation. For many — myself included — it is vitally important to fill the empty nest with the unconditional love of a pet.

My wife and I are already empty nesters, and our beautiful French bulldog, Iggy Pup, has moved squarely to the center of our household. Iggy is a constant companion. We walk him, feed him, cuddle him and endlessly dote all over him. When I go on vacation, I miss Iggy almost as much as I miss my children! He is truly an integral part of my life. I have no doubt that Iggy’s unconditional love and the affection I shower on him assure me a better, less stressed and more healthful life.

The link between pets and health promotion is very clear. Many research studies show that contact with animals powerfully assists in improving the health of nursing home patients and hastens the recovery of hospitalized patients. Studies on individuals of all ages clearly show that 15 minutes of direct contact with a pet reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, slows heart rate, improves sleep and reduces the risk of depression.

For men and women, interacting with a pet fosters nurturing, rapport, socialization, entertainment and exercise. Recent studies show that people who walk with dogs exercise more consistently and experience bigger fitness results than those who walk with a two-legged friend. Dogs are more reliable, walk faster and can often be more convincing enthusiasts for the regular walk.

But the most important health benefit of a pet’s companionship is the physical contact and touch. Contact with a dog or a cat is safe, soothing and nonthreatening. One stroke of a cat’s back or the touch of a cold puppy nose, and out of nowhere, unhappy patients smile, unwind and feel a deep sense of gratitude and contentment.

Pets of all kinds are particularly important to older people who live alone or who reside in nursing homes. Published in Occupational Therapy International, recent research showed that contact with pets and the resulting companionship and sensory stimulation improved the ability of nursing home residents to socialize while decreasing stress, anger and disruptive behavior. In addition, pet therapy decreased the need for sedatives or medications to prevent agitation. Self-esteem, patient independence and increased responsibility were also noted.

Occupational and physical therapists found that pet therapy had many physical benefits for patients. Muscle strength and range of movement improved, and pain management was more successful. Pets also reduced blood pressure and slowed heart rate.

As the healthful benefits of pets become more clear, many apartments, condominiums and assisted-living facilities are accepting animals. And the demand for “pet-friendly” establishments will only grow as the baby boomer generation marches past 65. Luckily, most long-term care facilities, hospitals and health clinics already have programs in place for animal-assisted therapy. There are training programs available to teach volunteers how to facilitate interactions between patients and a pet. Individuals who are interested can find local community programs, often through animal-training associations, to certify their pets as therapy animals.

For adults who volunteer in pet-therapy programs, the health benefits are doubly strong! Not only do you get to care for and interact with your animal, but you also get the fulfillment of seeing others benefit from your pet.

If your parents are older and live alone, I would urge them to get a pet. Whether it’s a dog, cat, bird or even an iguana, a pet can be an amazing addition to their lives. The unconditional love we give and receive from a pet doesn’t only improve health, but it also fulfills a critical need in our lives.