The prize in the Cracker Jack box

Ron Walker

Ron Walker

My daughter Marla lives in Western Kentucky. She tells me her son Coby is going to Australia for a week on business. Imagine. I can hardly wait to ask him how long the flights are now. I’ve flown to Sydney twice and had dinner twice on the same flight.

Coby and his wife Nozomi, met in Okinawa. Coby was a specialist in computer programing for the Marine Corps and traveled to Korea and Southeast Asia extensively. While there, they married and were blessed with twins (and a lot of work). After Coby left the Marine Corps, they made tentative plans to move stateside but Nozomi put her tiny foot down. She wouldn’t hear of it. She believed all the news she’d read and movies she’d seen and wouldn’t budge. Hawaii seemed like a good compromise because there was a large Japanese contingency in Honolulu. After a year there they moved to San Diego and love it. Now it looks like they may be moving again.

Nozomi and Coby have learned early on in their relationship that marriage is a partnership. Orllyene and I have been marriage partners for 60 years and have kicked and scratched, mellowed and mewed and are as close as the scent is to a rose. Orllyene is an excellent homemaker, which is her specialty in life and has allowed me to follow my dream, if you can call sweating at a ballet barre for hours and going to auditions where the chances of getting a job are hundreds to one. Stability and spontaneity are the keywords, not winning arguments. We’ve moved from coast to coast several times as I went from dancer to choreographer. After working in several reviews, I took the plunge. I did a small lounge show in Las Vegas and hooked up with a producer from Australia who wanted to get started as a producer in the United States. He could only pay me a hundred dollars a week with the stipulation that when I traveled, I would receive one hundred-and fifty-dollars week (which he gave to Orllyene in Vegas).

“Go where the work is” has always been my belief. I walked door to door in Seattle looking for a place to live for our family and on the flip side, took our family to Paradise Island, in the Bahamas many summers (all comped by the casino), and was a dancer in the Casino de Paris in Las Vegas when President Kennedy was assassinated and the lights on the Strip went dark. I’ve worked for Merv Griffin and Donald Trump when each took a turn owning Resorts International in Atlantic City. Merv invited Orllyene and me to his La Quinta home and we had a lovely time. I am still waiting for Mr. Trump’s invitation.

It sounds like Nozomi and Coby are on a similar life path as Orllyene and I are. This summer they packed up and visited her parents, uncles, aunts and cousins in Okinawa. Coby did his work on a computer using the internet. In similar fashion, I did clean up rehearsals in the Bahamas. You could say combining work and pleasure is like finding the prize in the Cracker Jack Box. Good hunting.

Ron Walker can be reached at


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