The Homes of Del Monte Park
Victor & Janet Di Gessu
The Di Gessu's house began as a sloping lot with a small trailer on it which Victor used as his home after leaving the army. Sometime after settling there he met Janet who had been a sargent in the Marines. One account is that he fell sick, Janet came to help him recover and never left.
The house was built by Victor with some help from neighbor's and was constructed of 1"x12" redwood boards and framing in the shape of a giant slanted roof shed.The floor to ceiling windows were made of plastic and steel mesh panels with a short bridge from the road to the house entrance. The Di Gessu's house had no insulation and was terminally cold. The house was the essence of bohemian living. Filled with paintings, art materials, a radio blaring KPFA radio politics at all hours of the day or night accompanied by passionate verbal rows (Victor usually the recipient ) that sometimes wound up out in the middle of the street. Their tired old dog "Spangles" would hobble around through the paintings and Salvation Army furniture while Victor and Janet painted, played flamenco guitar and taught Flamenco dance sharing their lifestyle and life lessons with people of all ages and walks of life.
Money was scarce for Victor and Janet mostly because their concern's were generally art and music which was central to their lives. A neighbor next door came home one afternoon to find an electric extension cord running out his bathroom window into the Di Gessu's house. When confronted Victor explained that the power had been turned off by PG&E for non-payment of their bill and that he was simply "borrowing" enough electricity to paint by and listen to the radio.
Carved door in back of house
Janet Di Gessu dancing Flamenco
"My parents rented the Di Gessu's house while they were away in Europe for a year studying art in 1952. From their house it was a short walk up the hill to where my Dad was building our home which was partially completed by the time Victor & Janet returned. We moved into the living room with a fireplace for heat and a makeshift kitchen when the year was up. While growing up the Di Gessu's were an adventure to have live nearby. These were people who "suffered no fools" and were very clear on their values and artistic direction and were well equipped verbally to present their position on a wide variety of issues. You could hear KPFA radio at 3:00 am on a foggy summer morning or Janet shaking the floor while stamping out a Flamenco dance and Victor smoked his pipe accompanying her movement
on Flamenco guitar that afternoon. They, as well as many other Del Monte Park residents, took a kind of "vow of poverty" so that their time on earth was spent living in the present, only really needing the satisfaction of an art life well lived."