First one, then two cars rolled off lazy Route 211 here and pulled up to Lloyd Wakeman's two pumps of what he calls "liquid gold."
The second motorist, whose car bore D.C. license plates, stopped behind the first car and shut off his motor, expecting a long wait.
"Hey, look there," exclaimed Wakeman's son, Nick. "We got a line.
In fact, it was the closest thing to a line Wakeman and his three sons have seen at their service station in a long, long time.
For, while the Washington area and much of the rest of the country have suffered weeks of near fuel-starvation, Wakeman has constantly peered through the window at his Brookside Resturant and Gas Stop here hoping, almost pleading, for customers to drive by and purchase gasoline from his overloaded tanks.
Wakeman, like thousands of other dealers, is only getting about 78 percent of the fuel allocations he got last year. But at the end of each month he finds a sizeable surplus of gasoline because fewer and fewer tourists this year are venturing to the campsites and other attractions of this Blue Ridge Mountain resort area.
Luray's 11 other dealers have fallen on harder time because they cater mostly to the town's 4,000 inhabitants. Some stations are closing at earlier hours, and fewer stations are open on Sundays in town.
But Wakeman's enterprise, sleepily settled behind a grassy bluff at the base of Pumpkin Hill, depends mostly on city folks who flock past during summer months to the famed Luray Caverns and Shenandoah National Park.
This summer, though, the city folks, reluctant to burn precious fuel, have stayed away. Park officials report a decline of 15 to 20 percent in hotel and motel occupancy, while Caverns managers say they have 25 to 36 percent fewer visitors.
So, Wakeman's swollen fuel tanks are oddities in an age of shortage.
"Fourth of July it was so quite you coulda played basketball right out there on the highway without having to dodge a car," Walkeman chuckled.
Born and raised in Luray, Walkeman returned to his hometown and purchased the restaurant and gasoline stop in 1976 after spending years on the road as a travelling salesman.
Between expectant glances at his lonely pumps outside, Wakeman said he had over 300 gallons of gasoline left over from his June allocation.
"Had 200 left over from May," he said. "So the distributor just gives me that much less for July."
His eyes brightened momentarily as a compact station wagon pulled into the driveway.
"Looks like we got somebody," he smiled. His spirits dampened however when his son told him the driver was a local resident who was arrviving to have lunch.
So far, Wakeman and his sons, who help out at the station, have experienced only incidental evidence of the gasoline grip afflicting the rest of the nation. Nick, 16, said he is getting "a whole lot more," in tips this year pumping gasoline.
"I guess it's because people are thrilled we have it," he said.
Then there was the traveling salesman from New Jersey, a steady gasoline customer at Wakeman's, who recently stopped by and bought two five-gallon gasoline cans.
He filled them and propped them in the back of his station wagon and chain smoked all the way home.
"He said it was real tight up north," Wakeman said. "I told him it was dangerous what he was doing."
Out front the "line" was developing and Wakeman stepped out to help his sons. Rick Stout, a D.C. broker, was last in the two-car queue.
He had been camping in a nearby park for the weekend and was on his way home when he shut his motor behind the car in front at Wakeman's station.
"It's a reflex," he said. "I get up at 5:30 a.m. to wait a couple of hours for gas on Capitol Hill. You learn to do certain things."
Rockville residents Alan Walker and Rick Thomson were returning home after visiting a friend in Luray when they spotted Wakeman's tiny business. "I figure I can end up with more gas coming way out here to fill up and then going back home," said Thomson. "The drive is worth it."
Wakeman, meanwhile, gazed at the spinning gauges on his pumps and grinned.