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Thursday, December 21, 2006

A large Christmas decoration collection, belonging to Mary Jo Fletcher, of Cassville, is on display at Fields' Photo Archives and Looks Unlimited in Cassville.

"My husband and I traveled a lot and each time that I would see something different or something that I thought would be cute to decorate with I would bring it home," said Mary Jo.

Over 27 years ago, while working at a convenient store in her hometown, Springdale, Ark., Mary Jo met her future husband, Gerald Fletcher, a Washburn native.

Although she had been married before and thought she would never marry again, Mary Jo fell in love with Gerald and moved to Cassville.

During the last 27 years, Mary Jo has exercised her creativity by owning and operating an assortment of local businesses including: Fastrip, the Four-Way, a downtown Cassville beauty salon and several retail stores.

As Gerald continued to travel from coast to coast as a district sales manager for the Dial Corporation, Mary Jo took time off between business endeavors to travel with him.

During one of their first trips, Mary Jo found an animated Christmas caroling girl. She purchased the doll and began what has now become a collection of over 250 different Christmas items.

"I could always find something that would intrigue me to no end and I had to add it to the collection," said Mary Jo. "I've collected items from the Florida Keys to Arizona."

When Mary Jo began her collection, she decided to focus on blue fiber optic decorations, but after she had assembled over 20 items she started collecting red fiber optic decorations. Now she adds items to her collection by personal preference more than decor characteristics.

Although she has purchased many of the items on sale, Mary Jo has a large amount of money invested in the collection of snowmen, Santas, Christmas trees and other holiday inspired decorations.

Around five years ago, with the help of her daughter, Alta Jean Easley, Mary Jo assembled and decorated over 25 Christmas trees in a Cassville Main Street store that she owned at the time.

"Alta Jean decorated every tree," said Mary Jo. "It was a lot of work because each one was decorated differently, but it was beautiful when she was finished."

Mary Jo intends to keep adding pieces to her Christmas collection each year. In the future, she would like to construct a special room at her home to display the collection in its entirety.

"I bought some Santa stuff at Siloam Springs last night," said Mary Jo. "I just always come home with something for the collection."

Gerald and Mary Jo have been married for over 27 years. The Fletchers moved to Cassville when they purchased the Fastrip convenience store on Main Street in 1979.

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