The phone inside the white two-story house with the maize and blue flag on the porch would start ringing at 5 a.m.
Everyone wanted to talk to the Oklahoma City kid who had been told he couldn't wear his Michigan shirt to school.
Cooper Barton's story went viral.
His family's world went crazy.
“We were amazed the story left the neighborhood really,” Cooper's father, Chris, said.
Sitting in the living room of the now-quiet house in Mesta Park, Chris shook his head.
“We had no idea.”
They had no idea Cooper having to turn his blue Big House shirt inside out because it was breaking the district's dress code would become such a big deal. No idea it would land them on ABC News and Yahoo! Sports. No idea it would make headlines in England and Mexico.
Almost as surprising, though, has been the outpouring of support. There have been letters. There have been calls. There have been shipments of Michigan gear.
As the Bartons — Cooper along with dad, Chris; mom, Shannon; and brother, Nathan — prepare for an all-expenses-paid trip to see Michigan play this weekend, they can't help but marvel at the kindness of strangers.
Cooper, after all, was just doing something he's done for a long time. Wearing Michigan apparel is nothing new for the Barton brothers.
“We started them out in onesies when they were babies,” Shannon said.
Chris and Shannon are lifelong Wolverine fans. He grew up in the southern part of Ontario, Canada, where Michigan was the closest college football team. She grew up in Clarkston, Mich., which is less than an hour from Ann Arbor.
They were living and working in Oklahoma when they met, and when they married and started a family, they passed on their love of maize and blue to their boys.
For years, they never had a problem being a Wolverine family in a Sooner and Cowboy state. They even went to an Oklahoma State football game once decked out in their Michigan gear and heard nary a disparaging word.
So, when Shannon went to pick up Cooper at Wilson Elementary last month, she was shocked when he told her why his shirt was inside out.
“What did you do?” she asked, figuring the kindergartner had spilled lunch on it.
“I had to turn my shirt inside out because it said Michigan,” he told her.
Sure enough, part of the school district's dress code was a ban on “clothing bearing the names or emblems of all professional and collegiate athletic teams (with the exception of Oklahoma colleges and universities).” The ban, which was temporarily lifted by the Oklahoma City Public Schools earlier this week, was originally added to guard against gang members using clothing from sports teams to identify gang affiliation.
Of course, older brother, Nathan, had worn Michigan shirts to the very same school and never been told to turn them inside out.
The whole thing left the Bartons scratching their heads.
Now, though, they're shaking their heads in amazement. There has been an outpouring of Michigan support. A guy in New York sent a box of shirts. A gal in Michigan mailed a shirt to Cooper's school. A season-ticket holder called and offered his tickets to a game. The alumni association, which started a scholarship fund in honor of Cooper and Nathan, shipped a box stuffed with everything from Michigan pencils to Michigan backpacks to Michigan mini helmets signed by coach Brady Hoke.
“Can I go get mine?” Nathan asked when the helmets were mentioned.
“Me, too?” Cooper asked.
Given the nod, they raced up the stairs to their bedrooms and returned to the living room moments later with the helmets bearing the coach's Sharpie-scrawled signature.
“They think that's so cool,” Chris said.
Nothing was cooler, though, than Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon calling to invite the family to Saturday's game vs. Massachusetts. The school is handling the all of the costs, including the flight, the rental car, the hotel and the tickets.
Of course, the Bartons, who will have a chance to visit family in Michigan that they don't often see, are getting special tickets — seats in the luxury suites.
Who knows what else is in store for them? What they do know is that at some point during the game, they will head onto the field where they will be introduced to 109,000 of their newest friends.
“I'm not sure what these guys are going to think of all those people screaming for ‘em,” Chris said, nodding toward Nathan and Cooper. “They're getting pretty excited. They've been talking about it for the past two weeks.”
“We are going to have a great time,” Cooper exclaimed with the unbridled exuberance of a 5-year-old.
Chris and Shannon laughed and smiled. So did Nathan.
These are happy days at the white two-story house in Mesta Park. By the way, there is now a second maize and blue flag hanging on the porch.
Another gift from an adoring Wolverine public.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.