Author’s inside look at TV candlepin bowling is a must-read for fans
Chelsea was once home to two candlepin bowling establishments, Broadway Lanes owned by George Michelson, and Chelsea Square Alleys, owned by Chet Pawlak.
In addition to each man being beloved in the Chelsea bowling community, Mr. Michelson and Mr. Pawlak shared another distinction: George and Charlotte Michelson and Chet and Carole Pawlak each had two children who bowled on television. Bonnie and Robert Michelson and Kathy [Finklestein] and Christine Pawlak earned their places among the ranks of the world’s best bowlers by appearing on Channel 5 bowling shows.
Mike Morin, a New Hampshire radio celebrity and a long-time candlepin bowler himself, has written a book that will surely warm the hearts of the Michelson and Pawlak families and candlepin bowlers everywhere.
And yes, Hall of Fame bowler Richie “Hawk” Halas and the great Max Valentin, who launched their pro careers at Broadway Lanes (atop Slaton’s Furniture Store) would also take pride in reading Morin’s work.
Morin has authored, “Lunch With Tommy and Stasia: TV’s Golden Age of Candlepin Bowling,” a look at all the candlepin bowling TV shows that once graced the airwaves.
And in another Chelsea connection to the book, Charlie Sherman, a former Shawmut Street resident and highly acclaimed New Hampshire TV personality, wrote the foreword for Morin’s book.
Anyone who ever watched Don Gillis’s “Candlepin Bowling” will appreciate Morin’s behind-the-scenes stories, interviews and warm memories of the game’s greatest bowlers, including Tommy Olszta, who now resides in Florida, and the late Stasia Czernicki, whose names appear in the book’s title.
The book was two years in the making. Writing about candlepin bowling was a natural fit for the 68-year-old Morin.
“I felt I had some inside knowledge because I did some work for the ICBA, appeared on the TV show (Candlepin Stars and Strikes on Channel 50) for nine years, and on radio (his broadcasting career spanned 48 years) – I felt I had the right combination of interest and skill to do the book,” said Morin.
The author grew up in Detroit and was a ten-pin bowler for 30 years. When Morin moved to New England in 1984, he began bowling candlepins and still competes regularly at Park Place Lanes in Windham, N.H.
“The book was something I had been thinking about for ten years, but I finally had the opportunity to write it when I retired from my radio career,” he said. “I was honored to do it.”
Morin said the first bowling show was televised on Channel 5 in 1958 and continued until January, 1996. “The initial host was Jim Britt and about three years in, Don Gillis took it over and rode it all the way to the end,” noted Morin.
A former champion on the Amateur Candlepin Tour (ACT), Morin places his focus on the Channel 5 (WCVB-TV) show in the book.
“That’s where the biggest stars and the biggest names came from, and it was on for the longest number of years – and had the most viewers, over 200,000 people every week,” said Morin. “Very often the Channel 5 show had ratings higher than any other sports show on any given weekend.”
Bowling fans will be delighted by Morin’s interviews with more than 75 bowling stars including Dan Murphy, Charlie Jutras, Jim Putney, Hawk Halas, Chucky Vozella and of course, Tommy Olszta, whom Morin considers the best of all time.
“Tommy did it when he had to – he had more appearances on the Channel 5 show than anyone else,” said Morin. “He was a gentleman, a fierce competitor.”
Other “phenomenal bowlers,” according to Morin include Chris Sargent and his father, Mike Sargent, Charlie Jutras, and Jeff Atkins.
Three of bowling’s currents superstars, Jonathan Boudreau, Jeff Surette, and Dave Barber, are also featured in the book.
“Jonathan is phenomenal,” said Morin. “I feel badly because he was born too late to take advantage of all the television opportunities that the other guys had.”
The book is generating positive responses in the bowling community and beyond. Bowling center owners and the bowlers themselves are thankful and grateful to Morin because there has not been a book written about candlepin bowling since 1980.
“This book covers all the people who were on TV,” said Morin. “And I got a lot of the behind-the-scenes stories that people never heard before.”
Morin also did some research and met with the children of Arthur Terlemezian, the gentleman who sat in the front row during Channel 5 shows and wore his traditional glasses and cardigan sweaters.
Morin has done several book signings at bookstores, libraries, and bowling centers. “I get the best results, no surprise, when I go to bowling centers,” he related.
As for the book’s unique title, Morin explained, “Because candlepin bowling was such a tradition on Saturdays at noon, people would sit down with their lunch trays or tray tables in front of the TV, and they would have lunch with their favorite bowling stars, who I felt were Tommy and Stasia. So that’s why I called it “Lunch With Tommy and Stasia, because that’s what people did every Saturday for 38 years.”
(Mike Morin’s book is available for purchase on Amazon.com and at independent bookstores in New Hampshire or by sending an email to [email protected].)