Cowboy meeting lady at the Reno train depot. Illustration by B. Kliban

SCENE: Reno, 1947. A handsome young cowboy hires on as the head dude wrangler on Nevada’s famous Flying M.E. divorce ranch twenty miles south of Reno

It was the heyday of the Reno “quickie” divorce era. Divorce seekers – as the media called them – came running to Reno by the thousands… the rich, the poor, the famous, and the working class. If they had the money and wanted their privacy from the prying eyes of the press, they stayed on a divorce ranch… and the Flying M.E. was the most exclusive of them all.

Nevada dude ranch wrangler and author, Bill McGee, 1947

Bill McGee on the Flying M.E., 1947 (Author Collection)

From 1947 to 1949, Bill McGee was the head dude wrangler on the renowned Flying M.E. He entertained wealthy Eastern socialites with names like Astor and du Pont, and Hollywood movie stars Ava Gardner and Clark Gable.

As Bill liked to say:  “At age twenty-two, being the only man on the ranch, and surrounded by all those beautiful and wealthy women, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Those were some of the best years of my life.”

Bill McGee recaptures these years in The Divorce Seekers – A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler (Book Trailer)


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