Recorded Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Candlepin bowling is hard. So hard, in fact, that no one has ever bowled a perfect game. The pins are tall and skinny, the balls are the size of a grapefruit, and the fallen pins are not cleared between rolls. Originating in Worcester, Massachusetts, in the late nineteenth century and played today mostly in New England and eastern Canada, the game has a rich and colorful history.
In the days before automation, sure-footed pin boys manually reset the pins and returned the balls. A long-running top-rated Boston television show regularly transformed unassuming candlepinners into regional celebrities. And the game has something called a Half Worcester.
Author and photographer Susan Mara Bregman bowled at dozens of candlepin centers, combed through dusty archives, and interviewed industry insiders to create this affectionate look at one of America’s quirkiest pastimes.