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Five by Eight by Eight

Five by Eight by Eight. Stoney Burke. Daystar Productions, 1962.

In the Stoney Burke episode, Five By Eight By Eight, the rodeo visits a prison, where an inmate seeking to escape kidnaps Stoney and the young woman for whom Stoney is signing an autograph. Five feet wide by eight feet deep by eight feet high is the size of a prison cell -- or so they say; quite frankly, Lewis Avery Filer's cell in Odd Man In looked larger.

One has to wonder why the escapee felt so closed in. After all,

prisoners have time in the yard; duties to perform to keep the prison operating; and access to televisions, pool tables, libraries, and the like. We can only imagine that the problem wasn't so much the size of his cell, but the lack of freedom to come and go at will. But, then, he didn't really gain that as he tried to make his way across a desert with the law hot on his heels. Some freedom! Freedom was something he had even less of after the court added abduction to his list of charges.

In the 1980s, five by eight by eight was said to be the smallest one would want to build a bathroom. Five feet was the standard length of a bathtub, while eight feet provided enough space for the width of the tub, a commode, and a small vanity. The ceiling was eight feet high. Even then, many people disagreed, preferring to add room in which to dry off without bumping their elbows against the wall. Today, of course, people would laugh at this five-by-eight concept. Large en suites have become all the rage.

Five by Eight is the name of a song by Benny Martin. I haven't heard it; is it about a prison cell? There is (or was; their website is inactive) a company called Five by Eight Productions. Could it be that prisoners made a film? There is a band in Athens, Georgia, called Five Eight. Could its members be 58 years old? One has to wonder what the attraction is to the phrase five by eight.

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