Remembering the old clicker

My wife and I married in 1974, right after high school, and our two sons came along one and four years later. For the first twenty-five years of our marriage, I worked at a number of blue-collar jobs and my wife stayed home with the kids. Throughout that long stretch, we didn’t have two nickels in the checking account after the monthly bills were paid. Finances, or the lack thereof, were a regular cause of frustration and friction in our marriage, which is not all that uncommon from what I’ve read.

When the boys were young, Friday nights were special. My wife would give me a shopping list and our two boys and myself would head over to the Wegmans grocery store on East Henrietta Road to buy food supplies for another week. Always on the list were a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a jar of Pace picante sauce, which we would enthusiastically scarf down while watching TV after we got home. Back in those days, there were plenty of decent television shows for the family on Friday nights like “The Hulk,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Knight Rider,” and “Air Wolf.”

Things were so tight financially that I always brought my red “Handy Counter”* clicker adding device (see top photo) along on our grocery outings. After I placed an item into the grocery cart, I would press the appropriate keys on the clicker to keep a running tally. We had a budget for our groceries and I tried to keep the total close to the goal. As we got to the last few aisles of the grocery store, it often became an exercise of returning some non-essential items back to the store shelves in order to stay within the budget. Inexpensive hand-held electronic calculators were introduced in the late-1970s, but I preferred my rugged clicker for the grocery shopping outings. It was actually much easier to operate than a calculator because I didn’t even have to look at it when I pressed the keys. I had to replace the clicker every year or so, but it was amazing they lasted as long as they did because of all of the cheap plastic parts (including plastic gears).

Later on in our marriage, I got my degree from night school and made some advancements at Kodak. My wife also went to school and began a career as a nurse. But additional income brings other problems and challenges. Then, in the summer of 2019, I was laid off after 43 years at Kodak and my wife was forced to leave her job because of health problems. But the Lord has provided for us in amazing ways this past year. We still watch our budget, but I don’t need to bring a clicker with me to the grocery store. Back in the day, I used to see (and hear) other frugal shoppers using a clicker at the grocery store, but I haven’t seen or heard one in maybe thirty years. I checked the internet and some vintage clickers like the one in the photo are available on ebay.

Thank you, Lord, for providing for us then and now!

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:25-34

*The Handy Counter clicker was manufactured in Hong Kong for Kitchen King Company located in Central Islip, N.Y.

30 thoughts on “Remembering the old clicker

  1. Great is GOD’s faithfulness indeed, Tom! It is good to recall our blessings and where we are now because of His love. GOD bless you, Corinne, and your sons! Doritos! Yes, I can still recall the theme song of Air Wolf and I watched few episodes of Knight Rider. Banner, on the other hand, was a favorite along with MacGyver.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Kent! God is faithful and will provide for us! I still enjoy Doritos and could easily eat a bag in one sitting if I don’t restrain myself. When Doritos first came out there was just ho-hum “Taco” flavor, and it was a big deal when they introduced “cool ranch” flavor in 1986. Our sons are also still fans of Doritos and Pace. We never got into MacGyver for some strange reason.
      Blessings to you and yours!

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  2. Yes, I remember them well and used them myself a good number of times. We had five children so having enough money to take care of their needs and being in the military as a Corporal at that time produced lots of challenges. I also can remember putting items back when the budget for food was almost expended. I remember finding a five dollar bill in one of my pants pockets when we were literally broke and it was like finding fifty dollars. We all had cheese and crackers as a treat that night! And, like you, the Lord always saw us through, providing secondary income working at a second job or my wife babysitting etc. I learned from experience that my wife was better at keeping the books balanced than I was and that is still valid to this day. And also, to this very day, God has opened doors that I never even knew about and gifted us with modest financial independence where we are still able to help our children when needed, and others, and we have all that we need. An awful lot of grace there, I can tell you. Thanks for the reminder. Blessings to you and yours!

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    1. Thanks for sharing some of your similar experiences and blessings, Bruce! The circumstances were tough back in the day, but it’s a blessing to look back and see how the Lord provided. My wife is the spender and I’m more practical so we balance each other (in many other regards as well).
      Thanks and blessings to you and yours!

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  3. Great post! Thanks for sharing about your experiences! I am so excited for Jan 11 for you and Corinne! I had no idea Corinne was a nurse, my best friend is an RN and I have always had a good relationship with nurses even though I was a dreaded therapy worker!

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    1. Thank you, Mandy! Yup, Jan. 11 is only two weeks away! Corinne got her RN in 2001 and worked in pulmonary ICU and then the outpatient headache unit connected to Strong hospital. Corinne has really appreciated her physical therapists.

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      1. I can understand why a child would want to play with the clicker, but I don’t recall our boys ever pulling it out of the kitchen junk drawer where I stored it and playing with it. Maybe they went behind my back! I would have yelled at them for sure.

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  4. Wow love this post. This was really a window into another time for me since I’m a Millennial generation guy…and also how things aren’t financially easy financially! If there was the invention of that clicker that means there was a need is why they made and sold it, really speaks to the reality of the 80s is not all easy economically speaking! Thanks for this and for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, brother! It was enjoyable to take a look back at that time. The financial pressures were challenging, but we had everything we truly needed. Yup, it was very common to see or hear someone using a clicker at the grocery store back in the 70s and 80s.

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      1. Like digital cameras and smart phones were the death knell for Kodak, calculators were the death knell for the mechanical clicker ‘industry.” However, I never see people using calculators in the grocery store these days. Evidently everyone has a lot of money now and isn’t constrained by a budget?

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      2. That’s an excellent thought. I imagine few people paid their groceries by credit card in 1980, but it’s probably the vast majority now. Less constraints and more opportunity to overspend.

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    1. Thank you, Crissy! Yesterday, I listened to a pastor preach on “God Is On His Throne.” We tend to think of God being on His throne during the mountaintop experiences, but not during the journeys through the dark valleys. Yes, His timing and provision for us is always perfect.

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