The Inwood, L.I. pair and about a dozen other couples who have been married for 50 years or more informally renewed their vows last week during a Valentine's Day party at the SNAP Senior Center in Queens Village.State Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck) presided over the ceremony, handing out certificates and a marriage survival kit. Inside the kit was a toothpick to remind the couples not to pick on each other, a candle so they would remember there is a light after every argument, a rubber band as a reminder to be flexible and gum to signify the need to stick together.Weprin called the couples "the true heroes of society.""With so many stories about couples breaking up, couples that have stuck together for half a century are couples to be admired and looked up to," he said. "People don't give enough credit to a stable marriage."Esther, 84, and Arthur, 88, met on a blind date in 1939 when they rode the Cyclone on Coney Island. They married two years later."We kept it a secret," Esther said. "Our parent's didn't know."Their honeymoon was put off for six months, they said, because Arthur enlisted in the Air Force. Esther went to the Illinois base where her husband was stationed.They had trouble finding a hotel room because the small town where the base was located had a population of 2,500. There were 25,000 servicemen returning home."The first night of our honeymoon we spent in a funeral parlor," Esther said. "These adventures have been following us throughout the years."Now a dance instructor at local senior centers, Esther said she followed her husband to every base where he had been stationed Ð Nashville, Houston, Florida and Alabama."She's very resilient," Arthur said. "She was always positive."Esther said she has no regrets of the life she lived as a young married woman, when she rarely had stability."I would do it all over again," she said. "With the same guy."The blind date setup also worked for Sophie and David Berlin of Queens Village, who have been married for 58 years. They became husband and wife six months after they met at a Manhattan restaurant in January 1948."We learned (about) each other after we got married," David joked. "It was a love that grew over the years." Sophie said the key to a lasting marriage is the ability to compromise."You have to be a diplomat," David said. "You have to say one thing when you mean another thing."Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@times
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