MENTONE, Ala. (WHNT) -- The previous owners of the Mentone Springs Hotel remember the day they bought it, decades ago.
This story starts and ends with daffodils, of all things. To tell it though, we have to go back to the year Jimmy Carter was President.
Ray and Sandra Padgett and the Mentone Springs Hotel have a past together, and that's what makes up this story.
They came to the little town of Mentone for a visit in 1980. Then, their lives changed. "She just loomed up on the horizon and captured my heart, and my husband's pocket-book," Sandra Padgett says with a smile.
The couple bought the hotel, even though it was in ruins. "We kept it for 11 years, we worked on it every weekend," Sandra says.
They lived there in the summer with their two children. Eventually the run-down building, built in 1884, became pretty again. It became something the town remembered it being.
Ray and Sandra don't say they restored it, they say they saved it.
Sandra planted daffodils right after they bought it. The bright, cheery flowers were a kind of symbol of home, and what was to come.
Years later, Ray got a job that took the family overseas, so they sold the building. The couple eventually moved back and opened another business. By then the hotel had changed hands multiple times.
The couple was at their business, which is set yards down the road from the hotel's site, when they heard about the fire Saturday evening. "This has broken my heart, that I'll never get to see her again," Sandra says,
Sandra and Ray went to look at what's left. Amid the gray ashes and twisted black metal, were bright little specks of yellow.
Daffodils, where Sandra had planted them decades ago, had survived. Sandra stopped to look. "He said 'look at the daffodills. Don't that give you hope?' "