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Reno Divorce Ranch Slang

5 Words to Know For a 1960s Quickies Reno Divorce

Season three of Mad Men ended (spoiler ahead!) with Betty on a plane to Reno, NV, for a quickie divorce.

Reno was the divorce capital of the US throughout the midcentury. It became popular in the '30s when Nevada reduced the divorce waiting period from six months to six weeks to ease its Depression-era money problems. Divorce hopefuls quickly began flocking to the state, especially Reno.

Where other states required proof of adultery (pictures, eyewitnesses), Nevada required nothing but an accusation. And the options went far beyond philandering! From failure to provide and desertion to habitual drunkenness, impotency, and "extreme cruelty entirely mental in nature," just about any reason was sufficient in America's biggest little city.

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So off people went, like Betty, to Reno for six weeks to establish residency. They gathered at hotels and ranches, specifically designed for the soon-to-be divorced, and developed their own slang. Find five words you would have heard while saying goodbye to all that in Reno below.

  1. Reno-vated: A positive way of looking at a Reno divorce. Somebody had to go there!
  2. Going Reno: The term to describe how buttoned-up East Coasters let loose. They'd ditch their house dresses for jeans, and dance and drink the night away.
  3. Spare: A soon-to-be divorced woman's next husband — the Henry Francis of the equation.
  4. The six-week cure: The great euphemism for going to Reno for a quickie divorce.
  5. Divorce ranches: Those looking for a Disney-fied Western experience lived on luxurious ranches.

Source: Flickr User nikkirk

Join The Conversation
katialoves katialoves 6 years
my great grandmother did this in the 20s or 30s i think
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
Haha, I've always wondered that too. I go swimming in that river a lot and have never come across any though haha
Yesi-Jukebox Yesi-Jukebox 7 years
^Did anyone try to dig them up to make some money? lol
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
The women would also throw their wedding rings into the Truckee River :)
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