While it may not rank up there with profound questions such as, "Why is the sky blue?" and "Who really killed President Kennedy?" I periodically will find myself asking just how many miles of alleys there are in the city of Hannibal. Definitely not one of the great head-scratchers of all time.

I am fairly confident that if I called city hall or the street department I could track down someone with the knowledge necessary to answer my query, but thus far my desire to know has not been strong enough to motivate me to make such a phone call or trip to one of those informational destinations. To this point of my life I am still content with knowing that a small portion of Hannibal's alley way system runs next to the Henley hacienda.

One of the prime benefits with living next to the alley is that it gives us the opportunity to park alongside or behind our house, which is significant considering a fairly narrow street passes in front of it. I hate to think how many dents our vehicles would have collected through the years if they would have regularly been parked on the street.

To be sure, there are disadvantages to residing alongside an alley. One downside is the incredible amount of vehicle and foot traffic that we see. If I were a betting man I would be willing to wager some serious coin that a majority of the traffic that passes just a few feet away from the hacienda is not being operated by someone who even resides in this block of the "hood."

Another factor worth noting is the number of vehicles, particularly large trucks or pickups pulling trailers, which creep into my yard, causing ruts in the grass.

Despite the volume of traffic that uses the alley beside my house, it is not a maintenance priority of the city's. There are two significant potholes about midway down the block which will definitely give you a good jarring if we should drop a wheel into one or both of them. They actually act as an effective speed deterrent for those fools who mistake the alley for the runway at Hannibal Regional Airport.

Another major downside to living adjacent to the alley is the trash that accumulates. Whether it be from vehicles or people on foot, when they are done with their meal and/or drink, the food container and/or cup is dropped just where they are with no regard for who will have to clean up their litter.

A couple of Sundays ago I looked outside and saw something piled in the alley and my yard. To be honest I thought someone's half horse canine had chosen that spot to "unload." However, upon closer examination it was determined that someone had tossed out approximately two dozen chicken wings.

Faster than you could say "Colonel Sanders" my wife, Nancy, had grabbed a trash bag and had cleaned up the mess. My bride, however, did not stop there. Nancy proceeded to collect other items that had been tossed out in our yard. With the trash bag only partially full Nancy crossed the alley and picked up rubbish from our neighbor's property.

With her trash bag full, Nancy called it quits. I immediately took note of her work, knowing full well the area would likely only stay looking that nice until the alley was used again.

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