Last Sunday, CBS Sunday Morning aired a special interview with Erin and Ben. The segment shared the story of how they met, past careers, and the fruition of their hit series Home Town. It also told the story of Home Town’s other main character, the city of Laurel. It showed how hard work, collaboration, and determination can restore a forgotten city to its former small town glory.
What you didn’t see behind the camera was Jim Rasberry grinning ear to ear, as his favorite host, Martha Teichner, and his second favorite TV show was filmed on his front porch.
You’ve probably seen Jim Rasberry, co-owner of Laurel Mercantile and CEO of Rasberry Financial, helping Ben Napier in multiple episodes of Home Town. His most notable title is CBS Sunday Morning’s biggest fan.
“I’ve watched CBS Sunday Morning since I was a kid. I remember spending the day at my grandparents’ house. Mamaw would be cooking hamburger steak, and I could smell the onions frying and the gravy cooking. You’d hear the television chattering along with the conversation in the kitchen. Television shows like the Price Is Right, NBC Nightly News became the background music of my childhood. One of the most famous sounds was the trumpet blaring, because that’s the lead-in to CBS Sunday Morning. I’d run to get in front of the TV as fast as I could.”
Fast forward to two months ago, Erin and Ben told their best friends about the opportunity with CBS Sunday Morning.
“I was like CBS Sunday Morning?! That’s premiere news journalism! Who’s doing the interview? What’s the topic? When they said Martha Teichner is coming to Laurel, I was done for. I made up my mind. Come hell or high water, I was going to meet Martha Teichner.”
The interview ended up being filmed on Jim and Mallorie’s front porch, and it was a once in a lifetime experience for the Rasberry family. Jim tells the story best. “I remember I went home early and changed shirts, because I wanted to look nice. Plus, I had dropped some chili on my shirt at lunch, and I couldn’t bear the thought of Martha seeing my stained shirt.
By the time I was ready, Martha and everyone was out on the front porch. Let me just say, I have clientele that are NFL stars and country music artists, but when I saw Martha, I was so nervous. I was beyond starstruck.
Martha, Mary Lou (her producer) and the film crew were awesome. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I asked if I could get them any coffee. I don’t know why I asked, because it was so warm that day and we were outside filming. Surprisingly, every single person on the crew said they wanted coffee. So I ran to the kitchen to grab a couple of Big Ben’s Blends k-cups and we were completely out. I ran to the guest house to find the extra stash, but I forgot that we were refinishing the floors. I wasn’t going to let that stop me from getting Martha coffee. I had to crawl over the furniture, but I grabbed as many k-cups that I could stuff in my pockets and ran back into the kitchen.
Finally, I took it out to the porch, and realized how unbearable it is to drink hot coffee on a hot day. Regardless, we had a wonderful conversation. We talked about Martha’s favorite segment that she’d ever filmed.
Her favorite assignment was an archaeological dig in Montana. She found a t-rex tooth that day. If anyone can dig up something good, you know it’s gonna be Martha.”
The conversation between Martha, Erin and Ben lasted for a few hours and soon the entire CBS Sunday Morning team headed home. Even though Jim was just a spectator, he felt like he had experienced an important moment in Laurel’s history.
“Watching Erin and Ben talking to Martha Teichner was amazing. I was just taking it all in, and I felt so much pride, because I know where Laurel has come from and how hard people have worked to get here.
There are not many times in life when you know you’re experiencing something monumental, but that was one of those moments.
It’s not the work that’s been done in the last four year that have changed everything, but instead, it's the last fifteen years that have led to this moment. Knowing the challenges, heart aches, the joys, the wins and successes, all the ups and downs, the financial gains and every cent of the financial losses has made this experience so sweet.”
It’s true. Over the last fifteen years, the people of Laurel have made their hometown a place where ordinary people with big dreams can succeed. Thanks to people like Erin and Ben, the Laurel Main Street organization, the Jones County Chamber of Commerce, the Laurel School District administration, local business owners, and people like Jim Rasberry, Laurel has become what it is today.
“I think the CBS Sunday Morning segment showed that Home Town is more than just a home renovation TV show. Home Town gives small town America a glimpse into what is possible if you dig your heels in and just go for it. Only a few people know the blood, sweat and tears of trying to revitalize a town. If you’re lucky, you get to see it through from the beginning. The good news is that this story isn’t finished yet. We’re just beginning.” — Jim
P.S. — Watch Jim's rendition of CBS Sunday Morning with his YouTube series, Laurel's Best!
P.S.S. — Fun Fact!
"We saw Martha wearing a red ladies neck sash during her first day in Laurel, so we included one of our blue and white hemlock bandanas in her gift bag. As soon as she opened it up, she immediately put it on and wore on air in the main interview!" — Mallorie