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Sunday, May 19, 2024
ISSUE #1207
Weekly Comments:  A Wedding and a Funeral, but no Divorce

Columbus: Sometimes when I’m exhausted and it’s late as I sit down to write Weekly Comments, I look to Will Rogers to fill in with funny, provocative, and inspiring thoughts.

Tonight is one of those nights. I just returned home to Ohio after a long weekend in West Virginia. I was invited to a wedding yesterday, one that had been planned for more than a year. And a couple of days ago, a relative passed away after a long battle with a debilitating disease, and the funeral visitation was today.

Will Rogers did in fact write about weddings, especially royal weddings in Europe and among his fellow actors in Hollywood. And he wrote poignant, deep thoughts about death.

But if I wanted to use really funny comments from Will tonight, in addition to a wedding and funeral, I should have also attended a divorce.

You may be wondering, what’s funny about a divorce?

Unlike today, back in the 1920s getting a divorce required planning and determination. And money. The only state that allowed a divorce in a reasonable time was Nevada. And by 1930, Reno was known as the “Divorce Capital of the Country.” A wife looking to get away from a husband permanently, could travel to Reno, stay for 90 days, walk into the Courthouse, and be freed from a husband. No reason required. And if desired, the next day she could return to the same Courthouse with a new guy, and start another marriage. So, with hordes of desperate housewives and Hollywood actresses lounging around Reno for 3 months at a time, Will Rogers found plenty to joke about.

But the fun for Reno began to end in 1931. Arkansas, Idaho and other states saw how lucrative this divorce business was. So, they passed laws that an angry wife could also petition for divorce in Little Rock or Boise, or anywhere in these other states after only 90 days. Nevada got wind of this intrusion on their divorce business and reduced the residency to 42 days. Competition among states kept the days of residency spiraling down. Today, no state has an advantage and the economic boost for hosting a divorce is almost zero. Except for the lawyers.

I’ll end on a high note. The wedding was held in the “Almost Heaven Barn.” Can you imagine a nicer facility for a young couple to begin their lives together as one? (It’s located a few miles off I-79. Yes, it’s on a… Country Road.)

The visitation at the McCulla Funeral Home was a chance to meet and share stories with friends, co-workers and relatives as we celebrated a life taken too soon. Talking with his successful adult sons and daughters, and seeing his bright, young grandchildren assured us that his legacy will live on and on and on.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“It’s kinder like Hollywood weddings.  I get a bundle of invitations every day to attend the weddings, but I would always rather wait a few weeks and take in the Divorce.  Weddings are always the same, but no two Divorces are alike.” Letters of a Self-made Diplomat to his President, 1927

“I maintain that it should cost as much to get married as it does to get divorced. Make it look like marriage is worth as much as divorce, even if it ain’t. That would also make the preachers financially independent like it has the lawyers.” DT #562, May 15, 1928

“(My sister, Maud Rogers Lane) has passed away. But she had lived such a life that it was a privilege to pass away. Death didn’t scare her. It was only an episode in her life. If you live right, death is a Joke to you as far as fear is concerned.” WA #128, May 24, 1925

“What constitutes a life well spent, anyway? Love and admiration from your fellow men is all that any one can ask.” WA #139, Aug. 9, 1925

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