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Posted by Cathy Gowdy on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 at 09:45:58 :

Marin Independent Journal
Thursday, July 2, 1987


Leo J. Ciucci, a former longtime San Rafael resident who long ago operated a hand-cranked projector at the old Lyric Theater in San Rafael, died Tuesday, June 30, 1987, at Marin Terrace Rest Home in Mill Valley at the age of 92.

He was born in Occidental in the Union Hotel, which now houses one of the restaurants for which the town has become famous. When he was 6, he moved with his family to San Rafael, where the main street was a dirt track.

“The dirt was terrible when it rained,” Mr. Ciucci said in a 1974 interview with t he Marin Independent Journal. “The merchants would go out and put dirt and boards across the ditches so that people could walk across the streets.”

He remembered the year, 1913, when four inches of snow fell on San Rafael, triggering a snowball fight among downtown businessmen.

He attended St. Raphael’s School.

From 1910 to 1912, he operated the film projector at the Lyric, just west of the current location of the Rafael Theater. At that time, the machine was a hand-operated 1909 model projector that required the operator to be exact in turning the crank to keep the film flowing smoothly.

“We had only one projector and when the reel ran out, we would call out from the projection booth that we had to stop and change reels,” he once said.

During World War I he served in Europe in the Army Air Corps.

Returning to San Rafael, he worked as an auto mechanic and eventually opened his own shop at Third and D streets.

Mr. Ciucci was a member of the Machinists Union and was a life member and longtime member of the board of directors of the Marin Rod and Gun Club.

He is survived by his niece, June Barnes of Santa Rosa.

A private funeral will be Friday and burial will be in Mount Tamalpais Cemetery in San Rafael.

Friends may visit 1 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Russell and Gooch funeral home in Mill Valley.

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