Where the Sidewalk Ends

Meet the rednecks running a mutual aid auto repair shop in Alabama

By Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein

Photos By Moe Kite

A group of men work stand in a garage with car parts surrounding them
From left to right: Henson and two AFC volunteers, Joe and Andy. While Joe and Andy are not mechanics by trade, they’ve learned quite a bit working with Henson, and fixed several cars for people in their community and their families.

The first time I met Zac Henson, in April of 2022, he made me soup. I had just driven up to his place in Montgomery, Alabama, and saw him sitting on his porch. He waved me inside. It was a small house on a quiet street. Banjos and big automotive tools littered the living room. On the stove sat a heavily boiling pot full of green tomatoes, onions, corn, and cabbage. Pork patties in a cast-iron pan next to the pot smoked and sizzled. He pulled the patties out of the pan and hacked them unmethodically into chunks, then grabbed a handful of rice noodles and dropped them in the pot. He started telling me about his dad, a violent, competitive man who’d died recently. Another handful of noodles. When Henson was 6, he tested off the charts on an IQ test, and his dad and teachers mostly saw it as a way for him to get a job, to be successful, to become a brilliant businessman or stockbroker. To win in life. He was on a track. 

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