The Iron Master

Today’s post was going to be about 1918, and let me tell ya, it WAS a year. But as I was preparing to post it I had an urge for today’s post to be fun. It’s my birthday. For the first time in my adult life, I took the day off and decided to do things I enjoyed. It’s so easy to forget to have fun, to get caught up in the day to day. With that being said, my “fun” will be the Dollar Tree, the thrift store and most likely a cemetery with a very very sinful Ivy Cake cupcake, or two, thrown in.

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with September. I loved my birthday, but I hated going back to school. The back to school advertisements ruined my last days of summer AND the lead up to my birthday. EVERY. YEAR. Then Kennedy was born in September and the month took on a new happiness for me. It was always “our” month. We spoiled each other. Our individual birthday celebrations would last for a week. But children grow up and life changes a little. So today, I am going to spoil myself. And I can’t think of a better way to start this day then to share a story of Josie and her playful fun side (but not a story from 1918, because that was a crap hole of a year.)


In 1910, Meharrians were in full on “benefit” and “fund raising” mode the entire year. Money was needed to complete the construction of Meharry’s first official “teaching” hospital, Hubbard Hospital. The hospital was to be named after Dr. George W. Hubbard, who was the founder of school. Josie and her friends organized concerts, lectures, showers and plays. Admission would be collected and the admission price would go directly to the Hubbard Hospital Club, of which Josie was the president.

Josie wasn’t just a mother, nurse, doctor, professor, lecturer, humanitarian, superintendent….she was an ACTRESS!! What? Shut the front door. Just when you think there was not another hat she could possibly have donned, she goes and tries another one on just for kicks!

Just days before Hubbard Hospital opened The Hubbard Hospital Club put on a play called The Iron Master. Meharry Auditorium was the venue and the event got raving reviews.

The Iron Master At Meharry (The Nashville Globe, Nashville, TN 9 Dec 1910 pg. 2)

“It is fitting to note the splendid success brought about by the rendition of the drama, The Iron Master, at Meharry Auditorium during the past week. From beginning to end there was an exhibition of pure intelligence and careful adaptation to their respective parts. It is putting it mildly when one says that the production was the best of its kind rendered in Nashville during recent years. The drama was presented in four acts and it only could have been reproduced by talents of the best type in our midst. As all will admit, a drama of French character requires, not the skill of the beginner, but matured minds to render it effectively.

Mrs. C.N. Langston, to whom much credit is reflected has worked earnestly in bringing about this play; and not only has she acted in its management, but superbly so in rendering her part to the satisfaction of all. To speak of the characters individually is a matter that would entail a great amount of time and space, and for this reason I desire to comment in brief only on those whose leading role compels particular mention. Miss Anita Scott as Athenias Moulinet, as customary with her,was at home on the state.It was so well done that it was difficult to find a line between the real person and the impersonater.

Mrs Alice Cheatham in part of Cla re Reaulieu, and the most noted of the characters in the play was a tremendous success. Mrs. Cheatham was in the play with all the motives that bring about fitness. It was this great brilliant character which touched the emotional side of her hearers and having surrendered her life at the ransom of her husband made her most conspicuous.

Dr. Josie Wells, one of the promoters of the play and foremost among the characters acted her part without a doubt. Dr. Wells in part of the Marquise de Beaulieu, well demonstrated that part of a mother which was especially noticeable.

Misses Mable Scott and Ethel Conyers played their respective parts to the satisfaction of all and with credit to themselves. Mr. Fredmand Bradford in the part of the Iron Master and husband of Claire, was as usual among the brilliant performers. Mr.Bradford is noted for his elastic memory and power of delivery, which enables him to put into his part that love, pathos and realism which won for him the applause and admiration of the entire audience. The greater part of success of the performance was hinged upon his connection with Clare.

Hon. J.C. Napier as Monsieur Bachelin played his part well. Mr. Napier could not have been replaced, for in the entire play he was void of exaggeration.

Mr. William Saunders was in every respect a noticeable figure and like Mr.Kelly of Fisk University and Mr. Booth and Mr.Jackson won loud applause. On a whole the entire program was rendered in a manner commendable to its participants.The costumes were elegant and of French creation.”

Society takes all of us and puts us in a box. It’s easier to deal with people and differences if we separate them: race, religion, politics. It is hard to step outside your box. Josie Wells did NOT have a box. She didn’t have limits. Doctor by day….Actress by night. Josie Wells, you amaze me. You lived your life with enviable joy and my next year I will try to remember to be brave, to step outside MY box and most importantly to have fun.

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