Whatever happened to . . . Patches?

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ... ?

May 03, 2008|By [ Jacques Kelly]

A bearded, guitar-playing tenor ruled children's television for a handful of years in 1950s Baltimore. His name was Patches, and he loved to sing "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly."

His real name is Jarrett Lickle, he's 82, and he lives in retirement in a Sparks condominium. He works out at his gym, writes poetry for fun and enjoys meeting up with old and new friends at Baltimore County restaurants. He remains a confirmed creature of the night and does not answer the phone during the day, when he sleeps.

Patches grew up on Allegheny Avenue in Towson and took over his father's ukulele as a boy.

"My mother and father said I was humming tunes before I could speak," he said, and he was singing country songs at age 10 for a WCBM radio program,

"I wouldn't miss a Gene Autry movie," he said.

After service in World War II - he sang in an Army Air Forces band in the Pacific - he performed in the waning days of local live radio shows broadcast at WFBR. Television arrived, and he broke into the medium on early variety programs hosted by Bailey Goss and Tommy Dukehard. He also commuted to Philadelphia for a children's television show.

In 1956 Patches took a job at WBAL-TV. He had an elegant Van Dyke beard and dressed in a plaid shirt and apron. Children couldn't get enough of Patches and his collies, Valley and Sage. He also had a crow named Hector that he rescued from a porch in Stoneleigh and a white mouse named Prairie.

Then he moved to WJZ-TV, where he appeared with a singing partner, Liz Murray, who later became his wife. She recently retired from Northwest Hospital Center.

Patches and Liz left local television in 1962 and soon opened their own coffee house in Timonium, called The 15 Below, so named because it was 15 steps under the first floor.

It was an alcohol-free place for young people in the basement of the old Timonium Inn.

"The kids thought of Liz and me as their surrogate parents," he said.

Among his guest artists were some then-unknowns: John Denver, Emmylou Harris and Don McLean.

Several years ago, Patches and Liz appeared at The New York Inn in Cockeysville where they sang folk songs and ballads.

"And to this day I still sing around the house," he said.

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