WILLIAMSTOWN — Those who want to learn more about how the 1918 flu pandemic affected a community in the Berkshires will have a chance next week at a virtual talk.
Former Berkshire Eagle journalist Dusty Bahlman will present "The 1918 Flu Pandemic Strikes Williamstown" during a free talk via Zoom at 11 a.m. Jan. 16.
The 45-minute discussion will feature numerous photos and documents provided by Michael Miller, and will be followed by a 15-minute question and answer session.
“We’re living this experience all over again,” Bahlman said in a news release. “And the similarities are depressing. In the end the 1918 flu killed millions more people than have perished from COVID-19 so far, but the tragic nature of the stories people tell are the same. Not only could they not be with their loved ones, but because World War I was raging soldiers died in Europe and their families didn’t learn until months later.”
Bahlman, of Williamstown, spent 20 years as a reporter for The Eagle and has worked as a freelance writer and journalist since 2005.
He will recount the story of Pvt. Willard C. Pike, whose family lived on Latham Street in Williamstown. The story will also feature a Williamstown nurse who was assigned to a hospital unit and wrote to Pike's family to tell them about his last days.
“It was the third and last wave of 1918 flu that killed people here in Williamstown,” Bahlman said. “Brainerd Mears was the commander of the state guard at that time and they closed Williamstown off for a couple of weeks. You had to have a pass from town hall to cross the borders into town!”