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Some come for the food.

Me, I come for the cash register.

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Okay, not quite true. Came here to recover from yesterday with some home-cookin' food. But this classic machine is always the first thing I notice: a still-working NCR mechanical cash register with the metal leaves that pop up with the dollar amount on. It first started clackin’ up the prices nearly 70 years ago, 1944, three years after Clayton's opened its doors. The boys were off at the Second World War, launching D-Day.

Cheryl and the NCR

“It still works great,” says Cheryl. She’s registering my cash - $12.12 – for Carla’s and my breakfast. Two eggs over easy, two sausage patties, home fries and an English muffin. We’re gonna share.

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Oh and a bottomless cup of joe while I waited for the to-go order.

“Morning after” days like today are when you need warm, familiar comfort places like this, Clayton’s Coffee Shop diner (979 Orange Avenue, Coronado, at corner of Tenth Street, 619-435-5425) with a horseshoe counter...

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Cheryl and Chelsea, playing "Mom" to the post-Christmas crowd in Coronado

...to sit around like zombies, crash on, listen to soothing music from the juke box.

“So here we are, in the Tijuana jail, ain’t got no friends, to go our bail.”

Kingston Trio. One of them, Nicky Reynolds, was a Coronado boy. Used to come in here. Just died.

The lovely Carla and I have come to see the Christmas get-up and lights at the Del. Us and 10,000 other shuffling post-holiday tourists.

But first, she wants to have this breakfast in the sun on da beach. And yes, it’s a mess by the time we hump it down there. But a beautiful luke-warm scramble, with my coffee still warm, just. We're out here among woolly-dressed turistas and hovering gulls waiting for a toss of our English muffin leftovers. And kids building doomed sandcastles at the edge of the water.

Best part is the yellow-eggy home fries gunge that’s left at the bottom, scooping it up with the muffin.

Sorry, gulls.

’Course there’s that cutting breeze down here. But nothing a cuddle can’t help.

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