Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Only Ten Minutes
(Checotah, OK) When you are driving down Highway 69 from Muskogee OK towards I-40 you can’t miss it. The sign says Home of Carrie Underwood American Idol 2005. It got my attention enough that I pulled off the next exit and into a service station and started asking some questions.
The guy I talked to was very proud that his wife used to work with Carrie’s grandfather and he told me his house was right down the road and only 5 minutes out of the way on my route to Oklahoma City. So being the blogger I am and the person that has predetermined that I will smell the roses as I travel the road of life, I took a quick drive through Checotah OK, population 3500.
I knew I was in familiar feeling territory when he told me I had to drive into town and turn right at the only red light. I can relate to that. Reynolds GA didn’t get its first red light until after I had moved away.
After I turned at the one red light, I looked up and saw Checotah High School, home of the Wildcats. In case you are wondering, Carrie graduated from that high school in 2001 as the Salutatorian. I continued down the road that was taking me right back to the road to OKC and found the block house that the proud local told me was the house where Carrie’s grandfather lived (or I would think used to live). Even after stopping my car 3 times to get quick photos shown here, the whole adventure only added 10 minutes to my day. Amazing what you can find out in 10 minutes.
Carrie Underwood, by the way, is one famous gal. Seven years ago she was attending “before school” prayer meetings at Checotah High and singing in the choir at First Freewill Baptist Church and attending services on Wednesday nights. Today she is a multi platinum recording artist who sings before sold out coliseums and on national TV and is recognized throughout the world.
Just four years ago, while a junior at nearby Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, some friends and family talked her into trying out for American Idol. The closest audition she could find was about 6 hours away in St. Louis. When she passed that audition she took her first plane ride in her life to make the trip to LA. She became the fourth American Idol in 2005. There have many plane rides since that first one. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Although this third daughter of a Checotah paper mill operator and schoolteacher grew up on a farm in this small town in eastern Oklahoma, don’t for one second think that means she is a dummy. Her American Idol run caused her to miss her last semester in college but she finished the next year and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northeastern State.
I was reminded today that normal folks can have the American dream. Carrie Underwood, talented but normal country gal, got the dream and then some.
And it took only 10 minutes out of my day today to be completely inspired by her story.