Ed Pearce of KOLO-TV, Reno, interviews former 1940s Nevada dude wrangler Bill McGee on the site of the famous Flying M E divorce ranch, Washoe Valley, Nevada. November 2004.
(Excerpted from Reno Divorce Glossary, THE DIVORCE SEEKERS: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler by William L. McGee and Sandra McGee.)
The Spare The euphemistic name for the man or woman a divorce seeker brought with them to Reno for six weeks. The divorce seeker provided accommodations for “the spare” and usually intended to marry them when the divorce was final. Another term for “the spare” was “the cousin”. “Spares” and “cousins” kept the divorce seekers company during the six week residency period.
Alimony Park The park across the street from the Washoe County Courthouse.
Bridge of Sighs The Truckee River Bridge where divorcees were said to toss their wedding rings into the Truckee River.
Divorce From the Latin divortium, to turn different ways, to separate.
Divorcé A man divorced
Divorcée A woman divorced
Divorce Capital of the World Reno, Nevada
Divorce Mecca Reno
Divorce Mill Reno
Divorce Trade Reno
Divorce Ranch A term used by the national media during the quickie divorce era for a dude ranch catering to divorce seekers, usually from the wealthy or upper-classes.
Divorcée Special Any train bringing divorce seekers to Reno
Divorce Seekers Males or females coming to Reno for a six-week divorce.
Going Reno A term for divorce seekers on the loose in Reno.
Golden Age of Divorce 1930s – 1960s. Also: Heyday of Divorce.
Graduation Day The day a divorce seeker — or “graduate” as they were called — receives their divorce decree.
I’m Going to Reno! A popular phrase used by a wife or husband to announce to their spouse that they’re going to Reno for a divorce.
Quickie Divorce A divorce granted after a six-week residency in Nevada.
“The Reno” A type of bra that both “separates and supports.” The idea is attributed to Ruth Lusch, a colorful Reno publicist in the late 1940s.
Reno Divorce Colony The Reno social set composed of locals and visiting divorce seekers.
Reno-vation A term coined by Walter Winchell for the change that despondent spouses went through in Reno. Also: “Reno-vated” and “Get Reno-vated.”
Separation Center of the West Reno
Severance Stay Six weeks in Reno
Sin City Reno
Six-weekers Divorce seekers
State of Easy Divorce Nevada
The Cure Synonym for divorce. Also: “To Take the Cure”.
The Separator Washoe County Courthouse
The Women’s Exchange Washoe County Courthouse
Widow’s Corner The Corner Bar at the Riverside Hotel, located down the street from the Washoe County Courthouse, where the Reno divorce colony met.
Carson City, Nevada, September 19, 2009 – Bill McGee and Sandra McGee were among a host of Nevada authors invited to sign books at the Carson City Library’s 11th Annual Oktoberfest.
(Above) That evening the McGee’s celebrated their 29th anniversary at one of their favorite restaurants, Adele’s in Carson City. Bartender Mark Nadreau always takes good of his bar patrons.
(Below) Two cowboys share a quiet moment at Adele’s bar.
Former dude ranch wrangler Bill McGee may have written the ultimate Western kiss-and-tell…a firsthand account of the epic era of the Reno six-week divorce. —Cowboys & Indians Magazine
In the 1930s to 1960s, if you wanted a quick, simple exit from marriage, Reno was the place to go. Divorce seekers by the thousands, including Eastern socialites, movie stars and housewives, came running to Reno to seek the “Reno cure”. Reno was known worldwide as the “divorce capital of the world” and “I’m going to Reno!” became synonymous with getting a “quickie” divorce.
Author Bill McGee experienced this epic era of the American West firsthand as a dude wrangler on the Flying M E, Nevada’s most exclusive divorce ranch located 20 miles south of Reno.
McGee’s personal stories — laced with names like Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, and a Roosevelt, du Pont and Astor – are mixed with sidebars and mini-histories about the era, the sights, the Nevada divorce business, and more.
I may be the only former Nevada dude ranch wrangler — ‘still above ground’ — who lived through this era. —William L. McGee, Author