Submitted by Doug Cohn
When telling history stories, not all have to be a hundred years old. People make history when they see a situation that can be improved and come up with a game changing new idea. Englewood has a history of innovative thinkers.
Chris Duis was born at Porter Hospital and grew up in Englewood. His grandmother, Meta Danford was the main cook for the Englewood school system for many years. He spent a lot of time at the Englewood Speedway as a young man and came to love cars. He learned auto mechanics at Englewood High School. His first job was working for a car dealer on Broadway and with his first check, he bought a really fast car. He has been doing body and paint work on cars for the past 30 years. This is the background of a most creative person with a big heart for his hometown.
In the early 1900s, the farmers and city people had a festival in the downtown area to celebrate the successful harvest. They called it Englewood Days. It was a weekend party and folks gathered from miles around. There were dances, music, displays of new tractors, newly invented automobiles and good food from the local restaurants. It was an opportunity to build community spirit. The event continued until the early 1950s. Some where along the way the sense of community togetherness got lost.
In 2005, Duis and a group of citizens decided to bring back the tradition with the centerpiece being a car show featuring classic autos, fire trucks, tractors and antique music machines. There were two music stages and food from local restaurants and a lot of really nice old cars.
The goal was to bring back that sense of community and have an event where people could see old friends and find new ones. Duis was approached several times by elders of the community and thanked for bringing them together with friends they had not seen in 30 years.
Duis said, “This is how communities started. People worked together, helped one another and celebrated life together, even if it were for just one weekend out of the year. We brought the community back together again with the hope that the leaders would hop on board and keep the spirit of our community alive. In 2006, we decided we needed to do something special to set our event apart from others. We looked at trophies for the winners of the car show.”
It was at that point Duis said he could build trophies out of car parts… and he did. He looked around his garage and found some old car parts. He took pistons, crank shafts and gears, welded them together, took the finished pieces and had them painted. The results were spectacular. The people who saw them were amazed. No one had ever seen anything like them. Every car guy wanted one.
That day, a new standard was set for awards at car shows. Chris Duis changed history. Well done, Chris. www.HistoricEnglewood.org.