Dude Ranch New Year’s Resolutions: 1940

As we say goodbye to 2022, here’s a look at a list of New Year’s resolutions from the dude ranching world.

The Dude Ranchers’ Association was founded in 1926 to help ranches increase their business and keep up with tourism trends. In 1931 the DRA started publishing a magazine for its members, called The Dude Rancher. It was filled with articles, profiles, photos, and a regular column called “House Management.” This was the dude ranch term for the “woman’s page,” and was much more than a simple column. House Management was a collection of stories, recipes, advice, best practices, and rants which is still delightful reading today.

The January 1940 issue included an article titled, “Personal New Year’s Resolutions Of a Dude Rancher’s Wife.” For some reason, the writer wasn’t identified, which was unusual, because the women put their names on everything else they wrote. And although today the term “Dude Rancher’s Wife” sounds sexist, in 1940 it meant a dude rancher’s partner. Because without women managing the “house” — everything that went on in the lodge, the cabins, and the kitchen, as well as guest relations — the place would fall apart. In a pinch, the women also led trail rides and managed other outdoor activities.

Anyway, this anonymous woman wrote up her resolutions for the 1940 summer season, and in this list, you can see what a “dude rancher’s wife” had to put up with:

  1. Never lose my temper when, on the home stretch, the dudes race far out ahead leaving me to eat their dust and admire the scenery, quite by myself.
  2. Not grit my teeth too audibly when asked to pose for just one more picture, as we wind our way up a treacherous skyline trail.
  3. Not let the cook stare me down when asked to try out a tricky new recipe.
  4. Never try out a tricky new recipe.
  5. Always smile sweetly when asked for another couple of blankets and extra pillows. . . particularly when I have to take them off my own bed.
  6. Not look too pained when someone deliberately throws a candy wrapper in the middle of the best, and only, lawn.
  7. Ditto the above, when the remains of a picnic lunch, particularly orange peels, are thrown to the ground.

Some guests were more demanding than others. This is a postcard from the late 1930s.

The comprehensive list of resolutions ended this way:

Learn to slow down and not run so I will appear “western,” while I:

  • Plan the day’s meals
  • Check up on the food store house
  • Check up on the linen supply
  • Inspect cabins ready for arriving dudes
  • Settle any and all grievances–dudes and help
  • Plan a day’s ride for new guests
  • Put up a couple of dozen lunches
  • Get ready to go on said ride
  • Look interested, but never distressed, when the bath-house plumbing stops up
  • Not let my heart sink to my boots when the cook sends word she wants to see me. . . chances are it is about a new way to fix potatoes, and not that she is quitting
  • Always remember that my horse and a quick get-away is better tactics, though less satisfying, than a blow up

May your New Year’s resolutions be easier to keep!

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