The Granofsky clan seems like the idealized family of old. The woman as homemaker has a special place of honor. Family members talk often, either for long hours over the telephone or around the parents' dinner table. And then there's the family wiseguy who, even as an adult, keeps everyone laughing with his good-natured jabs at his sisters.
The Granofskys recently celebrated something else they think is hard to find nowadays. The parents and each of their four children are still married to the spouse with whom they took their first vows.
George and Viola Granofsky have been married 50 years, and their children have been married from 25 years to 10.
"The younger generation today, if it doesn't work, they don't work at it," Viola Granofsky said about marriage.
"That's it," her husband agreed. "You have to work at it. It doesn't come easy. We've seen couples get married and that's the end of things. For us, it's just the beginning."
Last month, to celebrate their parents' golden wedding anniversary, the Granofsky children and their spouses held a mass renewal of vows and parental tribute before 200 guests at the Memorial Chapel at Fort Myer.
At first, "all the men in the family weren't exactly over-exuberant," said George Granofsky Jr., who has been married to his wife, Dodie, for 15 years.
Eileen Lyle, 44, said she and her husband, Tim, recently had renewed their vows and didn't want to do it again, but her sister Nanette suggested that some renew vows and others simply pay tribute to their parents. All the family members agreed.
After musical selections, lighting of candles and Bible readings, the families held a reception that included festive cakes, dancing and traditional Lithuanian sausage made by Viola Granofsky and a Lithuanian, syrup-based liqueur made by her husband.
It all started 52 years ago when the elder Granofskys met at a beach picnic. Four months later, they saw each other again at a dance. She asked the band to play "Heart and Soul" and he walked up behind her and said, "Remember me?" Viola Granofsky said.
She said he used to send her free passes to hear his band play "and then he took me home."
"He didn't take you home," daughter Eileen interrupted. "I mean the way people talk now about taking a person home. He escorted you."
Viola Granofsky looked puzzled, then brightened. "That's right," she said.
George Granofsky recalled playing cupid for his daughter Nanette, now 46. He played in a dance band, and one day they got a new member. He suggested that Eileen and Nanette might want to meet him. "So Eileen and I checked him out and I liked him better," said Nanette, who married Samuel Evans three years later.
George Jr. met his wife at a karate school. He first dated her girlfriend, who later jilted him. Then, he became friends with Dodie, but only after she threw him out of her apartment during an argument and he insulted her, he said. "There definitely was no starry-eyed beginning to our relationship," he said.
Now they said they do volunteer marriage counseling at Fort Myer Chapel.
Eileen and her husband, Tim Lyle, 33, met in the U.S. Army Field Band where they both worked, and Alan Granofsky, 33, and his wife, Sharon, 33, met in college. The Lyles have been married 11 years and the Granofskys for 10 years.
In keeping with the interests of the patriarch, each of the children's families is involved in the military as well as in music -- often both. George Granofsky was in the U.S. Air Force Band for 20 years and also performed with the U.S. Air Force Strolling Strings.
Nanette's husband retired after 25 years with the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own," which performs at numerous high-level White House and other functions, and both Eileen and Tim Lyle have been with the U.S. Army Field Band for 14 years.
George Granofsky Jr. is an assistant section leader and bugler for The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and formerly was with the First U.S. Army Band at Fort Meade. Alan Granofsky is a musician with the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own."
Asked how their marriages have lasted so long in an era in which divorce is so common, each of the younger couples gave answers that led back to the sense of stability they received from their parents.
"There's a whole lot of things you all do as a family that people from a broken home don't do," Dodie Granofsky said of her in-laws. A family "is the strongest unit that we have. This family never ages. We're never too old to act foolish."
She recalled how every Easter the siblings can be found on the front lawn wrestling each other for colored eggs. "We're never too sophisticated to be a family," Nanette Evans said.
The younger George Granofsky said that they "never saw a knock-down, drag-out fight" between their parents. His wife said arguments always ended with the air cleared.
"Our parents always showed love to each other," said Eileen. "They were always kissing and hugging. I always saw my parents in love."