The mother of all rain lamps, Monsanto's Fountain of Fashion!
No vision on earth has yet been discovered that can so thoroughly hypnotize a person into an unblinking stupor as the drip-drip-drip of mineral oil cascading down a nylon thread. Sometime back in the 1960s - or maybe earlier - some genius somewhere combined illumination with precipitation and came up with a miracle we now know as the Rain Lamp.
If you've never seen a rain lamp, you're either too young or too tasteful for your own good. When I was ten I wanted a rain lamp for my bedroom with every polyester fiber of my being. The Sir George's Smorgasbord by our house had one suspended from a pole above the desserts and it was all my mom could do to prevent us kids from disrupting the never-ending chains of diamonds with our fingers.
Disneyland, as with everything else, had the biggest and most impressive rain lamp ever conceived by mankind. Stretching from floor to ceiling, Monsanto's Fountain of Fashion was the grand finale of an Adventure Thru Inner Space, and though the precise reason for its existence was lost on most people, the effect was unforgettable.
Just out of reach...
Restrained by their lap bars - and possibly the admonishment of their moms - Atommobile passengers had to fight off temptation to reach out and touch the forbidden strands of the Fountain of Fashion. Within a swirling tornado of a million oil droplets, faceless mannequins depicting a woman and a little girl on a swing wore clothing made from "Blue 'C' nylon and polyester yarns." At their feet, a bed of oversized white daisies gave a hint of nature in this unnatural place, while helping to conceal the oil intake reservoir.
I finally obtained a rain lamp of my very own by the time I was in my late twenties. It had a gold-painted figure of a Grecian woman on a base surrounded by green plastic ferns. One time a fern came in contact with one of the nylon threads and a leaf conducted about 8 ounces of oil out over the edge of the basin, completely ruining the top of a bookcase below. The greasy mess slightly diminished my enthusiasm for rain lamps, but seeing these photos of the Fountain of Fashion makes me want to give them another chance.
The Adventure Thru Inner Space attraction debuted in Tomorrowland on June 29, 1967. In his opening day remarks, former Monsanto president Charles A. Thomas said about the ride:
"At the end of the trip, of course, the visitor is exposed to 'a word from the sponsor.' I think you'll agree that we have shown considerable restraint in this area..."
So the Fountain of Fashion and the Miracles From Molecules display was Monsanto showing restraint? Good golly, just imagine what they would've come up with had they let loose!