Into the Garden with Charles: A Memoir
by Clyde Phillip Wachsberger
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
210 pages, $28.
CLYDE (“SKIPPER”) Wachsberger had no interest in baseball as a boy but was happy to go with his father to nurseries, and he so loved peonies that after the real ones outside his house had bloomed, he would make more out of Kleenex painted with his mother’s lipstick. Even as a grown-up in Manhattan, what he really wanted was a garden of his own—and someone to garden with. At a time when gay men in New York were rushing to the bars, baths, and backrooms, Wachsberger believed in monogamy. So, he finally placed an ad in the Village Voice personals section—and to his surprise the newspaper called him to come down and collect the over 300 replies. But after methodically meeting the respondents, one by one, he found that the only thing he had in common with them was a desire for a monogamous partner. So, in 1983, at age 38, he moved to the north shore of Long Island, where his gay sister was already living with her partner in a town called Orient, and bought a 300-year-old-house with enough property for him to realize a dream he’d had since childhood: a garden of his own.