Sisters Tell Tales From The 'Divorce Ranch' Beth Ward and her sister, Robbie McBride, grew up on what was known as a "divorce ranch" in Reno. Women who were denied the right to divorce could live in these hotels to establish residency -- then file for divorce in a Nevada court.
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Sisters Tell Tales From The 'Divorce Ranch'

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Sisters Tell Tales From The 'Divorce Ranch'

Sisters Tell Tales From The 'Divorce Ranch'

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

We'll hear now from two sisters who lived on one of those ranches: Beth Ward and Robbie McBride. Their family owned the Whitney Ranch and they talked with each other about life among the divorcees.

ROBBIE MCBRIDE: Most of the guests came from New York, New Jersey.

BETH WARD: At the end of their six weeks, mother would go to court with them and testify that they had been a resident at the ranch and she had seen them every day. Many of them said, well, you could just testify that I was here the last two weeks. They'd say, oh no, oh no.

MCBRIDE: Mother liked to have things nice and smooth and no fussing and fuming.

WARD: One guest cried for six weeks. Any time a man would walk, oh, it reminded her of Joe. And we finally saw Joe, and I don't know where the tears came from 'cause he was no prize package, I can tell you that. But as a whole, most of the people who came there, they wanted a divorce, so it wasn't an unhappy time for them. They just thought that it was great that they were someplace they come to get one.

MCBRIDE: An awful lot of them had plans for after their six weeks.

WARD: When they checked in, they would say my cousin will be with us. They had somebody in the other room waiting to walk down the aisle with. And six weeks later, of course, they were married.

MCBRIDE: Listening to stories from the guests, I think we probably thought many times: I sure won't make that mistake.

WARD: Yeah, Robbie had a good marriage with her husband. And I'd been married and divorced and then remarried. The man I've remarried, his wife had been there for a divorce. He came over and asked me out for dinner. And the next thing I knew I was married, so it was the greatest move that I think we ever made.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "D-I-V-O-R-C-E")

TAMMY WYNETTE: (Singing) Our D-I-V-O-R-C-E...

LOUISE KELLY: Beth Ward with her sister Robbie McBride in Reno, Nevada. Their conversation and all the others will be archived at the Library of Congress, and their photos of life at the Whitney Ranch at NPR.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "D-I-V-O-R-C-E")

WYNETTE: (Singing) ...I love you both and this will be pure H-E double-L for me...

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