worked. Several years later, the Hensons moved to Hurlwood, where his father tended livestock and his mother cooked
massive meals for the many cowhands needed to run the large Maxwell spread. In 1929, the family moved to Lubbock,
Texas, and the next year to Sudan, TX.
In the spring of 1930, at the age of 8, Harold found himself playing surrogate father to “Tom”, a newborn Brahman-Jersey
Bull calf. Tom was born of Cricket, the family's “6 gallon cow.” (So named because she gave 3 gallons in the morning, and
3 in the evening. Papa Henson had to fashion a “bra” for her out of gunny sacks to keep her udders from dragging the
ground.) Brahman-Jersey Bulls are known for their dangerously unpredictable nature, and have killed or injured many a
farmer through the years. Harold assisted in the birth of Tom and raised him from a tiny calf, petting him, talking to him and
training him to mind as well as a horse. They were inseparable.
In 1933, deep into the Great Depression, the Hensons moved to Portales, New Mexico, in search of work. Harold was now
11; Tom was 3, and a hearty bull quite desirable as a breeder. Harold charged $1 for a “guaranteed take” to breed the
farmer's cows. If the cow's pregnancy didn't “take,” Harold would bring Tom back to try again for free. All the money he
made went to help the family.
Harold attended L.L.Brown Elementary School, where Principal Steiner would take calls in the school's office from farmers
and ranchers to “book” Tom. Harold would sink down in his class seat as the principal would call him over the intercom,
“Bull Boy! Come to the Office!” Tom was staked to the grass in front of the schoolhouse, and Harold would leave class to
ride him to whichever farmer or rancher had called. He rode Tom bareback, as he had never found a saddle wide enough to
fit. Many a starry night, Harold rode home stretched out on Tom's broad back, looking up at the constellations.
The next year, 1934, Principal Steiner submitted a letter about Harold and his bull to *Ripley’s: Believe it or Not.
Ripley’s grandson traveled to Portales and took a photograph of Harold sitting on Tom in front of the Portales Chamber of
Commerce Building. The article and picture ran in 1935, and Ripley paid Harold $10 for the use of the image and story.
(To Harold’s dismay, Ripley changed Tom's name to “Prince” in the article.) Other national publications picked up the story
of Harold and Tom/Prince and printed their own versions of it—including LIFE, Look, Collier's, and Grit.
In 1936 (Harold was 14), he took Tom and rode him in the Clovis Parade. After night fell, Tom was trucked home in a
slatted (not enclosed) truck. It turned sharply cold that night, and Tom came down with pneumonia and died shortly after.
The Hensons owned and worked a few bulls after Tom's death, but none as beloved as his boyhood companion.
Harold joined the Army in 1942, training at Camp Robinson, Arkansas, and was sent next to Fort Bliss, Texas. He was a
member of the 1
st Cavalry Division 5
th Regiment. Harold was a “Pony Soldier” until the Army “dismounted” his division in
1943, when he became a machine-gunner. He was sent first to Australia, and then to the Admiralty Islands of Papua New
Guinea. In 1944, Harold found himself on Luzon Island in the Philippines. In 1945, they landed in Japan and marched
through Tokyo -to see what the reaction would be to the signing of the surrender on the Battleship Missouri–“the Mighty
Mo.” On October 20
, 1945, Harold returned to the states, “Home Alive in Forty-Five!”
Harold returned home to Portales, where he was reunited with his family–and the loving arms of his awaiting sweetheart,
Marie Owen. He attended Barber college that same year, graduated “Journeyman Practitioner of Barber Science” in 1946,
and opened a barber shop in Portales with his father.
Harold and Marie married on August 7, 1947, in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. (Why, Fort Sumner, you ask? Harold caught
wind of a plan his friends were hatching involving an ancient tradition called “the chivaree,” where amongst much revelry
and noise-making, the groom was ultimately kept from any private contact with his new bride. Harold and Marie took off to
Fort Sumner.) They looked through the town for a Presbyterian minister, but no one in town seemed to have heard of such,
and the Methodist preacher was gone fishing. So, Harold and Marie were married by a pastor of a Church of Christ, with the
preacher's wife and daughter as witnesses. Their first son, Larry Don, was born in 1948, their second son, Robert Rand in
Harold purchased a home, and relocated his family to Phoenix, AZ, in 1955. He built and opened “The Outpost Barber
Shop” in 1956. Countless military, politicians, first responders, neighbors, friends, and family were all loyal to Harold and
the shop. Harold’s two sons also attended barber college and started their barbering careers there. The Outpost became a
popular place for many regulars to spend their lunch hour, or even to just stop by and hang out. One popular game amongst
men around town involved tossing money into a hat, dispensing their own bottle of “ice-tipped” Coca-Cola from Harold’s
near freezing Coke machine, and then, with a world atlas at the shop, they would see whose bottle was manufactured
furthest from Phoenix (using the bottling plant stamp on the bottom of the glass bottle). Whoever had the furthest facility,
won the pot.
Harold barbered well into his 80’s, and he and Marie remained well known and loved in the community they lived and
served. They loved to go dancing with their friends at the American Legion, Post 29, every Wednesday and Friday nights.
Harold continued to go, even celebrating his 98th birthday there, until Covid-19 quarantines began in March 2020. He spent
much of the next two years at home with his 2 dogs, watching Westerns, nodding off in his barber chair, and tending to his
tomatoes and peppers. The Outpost Barber Shop was a Phoenix landmark for 65+ years before succumbing to two separate
fires in September and October 2021, by two transient arsonists.
Marie passed on May 10, 2015 (Mother’s Day), just 9 days before her 89th birthday. Harold left us on December 14th,
2021, at the age of 99, just 1 month and 5 days shy of 100.
He leaves behind their 2 sons, their wives, 4 grandsons, 2 granddaughters, 4 great-grandsons, 5 great-granddaughters, 3
great-great-granddaughters, (and 2 more great-great-granddaughters on the way!).
Harold’s services for Phoenix will be in Avondale at:
Avenidas Funeral Chapel
522 E. Western Ave
Avondale, AZ 85323
He will be laid to rest between Marie and his mother and father in the Portales Cemetery in Portales, New Mexico on
January 10 2022..
*Harold Henson has an exhibit piece, which includes the Ripley’s paper with Harold, inside
the Roosevelt County Museum in Portales (near the University);
ENMU Station 9, 1500 S Ave K (575) 562-2592
He is already sorely missed.