I doubt an Army company was the first thing to come to mind when my Mom heard the word fifth.
Otherwise, maybe she wouldn't have felt the need to fib to the man who knocked on the door of our little white tenant house in the summer of 1955.
He was owner of the local speedway, a quarter-mile dirt track from which I could hear the roar of engines on Saturdays nights and watch dust rise above an eerie glow.
Would my Dad be interested in a job as public address announcer, he wanted to know.
"No," was Mom's quick and terse reply.
"The last thing we need is your dad using a loud speaker. There's just no tellin' what he might say."
I have no personal recollections of Dad's speaking abilities, other than the time he tried to sell me to the highest bidder.
He sat my six-year-old butt atop a water-filled Coca-Cola cooler in a rural Kentucky grocery store and asked who would give top dollar for the cute little boy.
The rhythm of the auctioneer chat made my heart flutter, but I guess he was only kidding.
All the overall-wearing men gathered around the Warm Morning stove just laughed between spits of Red Man into a heavily stained coal bucket.
I wasn't embarrassed by what he did. Maybe I was too scared to be ashamed.
To tell you the truth, I don't recall ever being embarrassed by Dad's drinking problem. If indeed, he had one.
Maybe it was because he let me lick the foam off his Oertel's 92, or the way beer seemed to help him enhance nursery rhymes.
My favorite: Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon. The little dog laughed and scratched his a--, and the dish ran away with the spoon.
I didn't repeat any of Dad's lyrics when I started first grade at the two-room Camp Ground Graded School in the fall of 1955.
I knew I had a good thing going when Mrs. Crockett asked each class member to read out loud and continue until we found a word we didn't know or could not pronounce.
Alice & Jerry was a breeze after having mastered comics passed down from three older brothers.
I beamed with pride after reading the entire book.
Wanting to build on my success in the classroom, I recall feeling lots of peer pressure at recess as I sat on the front steps with five or six classmates.
One by one they began bragging about how great their dads were and what they could do. I don't think I really heard their stories, but I'm sure they involved catching big fish, or showing off acts of strength.
I was too busy trying to decide what a man old enough to be their great grandfather (he was 63 when I was born) could do better than their dads.
Finally, I had it.
"My Dad can drink more beer than all your dads put together," I exclaimed.
We didn't have a telephone at home, nor do I recall there being one at the school.
So how my mother knew what I had said when I got home that afternoon, I have never known.
Mom never struck one of her children, but I think I would have preferred a sound whipping over the lecture delivered that day.