Mary Ann Conyers can finally put her talent on display.
She has an eye, simply, for the way things go together. She spent her childhood making her room look nice, and her working career making her home look nice. She’s now able to share her talents with a public audience, and the windows of the St. Luke Auxiliary Thrift Shoppe are her medium.
After 29 years as a nurse at St. Luke Hospital, the Pilsen native and longtime Marion resident retired in July, and has been working as a volunteer for the hospital’s auxiliary thrift store.
“We couldn’t do the window display without her,” store manager Rosemary Garrard said.
She only recently began putting together the shop’s window display. At least, she’s designed it. The shop’s handymen, Walter Hein, Richard Hein, and Orville Pfeiffer, helped construct it.
On one half of the shop, the window is a golden Christmas tribute, as a tuxedoed mannequin and his date stand before a backdrop of billowing white curtains, with festive golden orbs hanging overhead.
The other side is a more traditional Christmas display — stockings lined along the window, with Christmas figurines of all sorts, but mostly Santas, welcoming in customers from the December cold.
“You want to capture someone’s eye,” she said. You want them thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got to go down there Friday, I really like what’s in that window.’ That’s the way I would shop.”
Conyers has many fond memories of Christmases past; it’s her favorite holiday. None of the memories stick out as much as the Roy Rogers cap gun she got when she was younger.
“I had a shootout with my cousin under the kitchen table,” she said.
These memories that fuel her decorative spirit come through in her home, which is adorned in every room with Christmas decorations.
All her designing, even at home, is unplanned. She sets her decorations as she sees fit, without simply putting the decorations in the same designated places year after year.
“It just kind of falls together,” she said. “Most of the time I forget where I put things last year, or it just happens to go up there again.”
The same free-spirited style comes through in her window displays.
She says she’s received many compliments on her efforts, and she’s grateful for them, but she’s not dwelling on them. Her own assessment of her work is modest and brief.
“I think it probably looks OK,” she said. “Then I think what I’m going to do next.”