In putting together yesterday’s post about Lazarus, a line about Eastland Mall having an “enormous rain lamp” caught my eye.
Wait. Rain Lamp? I remember those. They were a thing in the 70s, one of those classic pieces of kitsch I hadn’t thought about for years.
This is a rain lamp. The ones I remember were hanging fixtures and were quite substantial, but tabletop versions also existed. Typically, there was a figure in middle–often classically-influenced, such as Venus or Diana–along with some plastic foliage. Around it, on strands of nylon strung straight or diagonally from top to base, flowed small drops of mineral oil, conveying the feeling of rain. They were popular in the 60s and 70s. I seem to recall a couple of the local Italian restaurants in Columbus had these lamps (one of the pages I ran across seems to bear out that these were very popular in the Italian community.)
As with just about anything, rain lamps now have a following of people who have reconditioned or restored them. They are, from all accounts, a bit of a pain. The oil needs to be changed regularly or it begins to become rancid, and the motors are prone to clogging. But I will admit I found them fascinating as a kid.
Here’s a post from the History’s Dumpster blog showing a number of rain lamps, and here’s a Pinterest site. This guy on Facebook sells pumps for those looking to recondition the lamps, and there are lots of pictures there as well.
I have not seen one of these in the wild for many years, and frankly, had forgotten they even existed. Perhaps someday I will spot one again.