Creepy resting place for discarded toys in Eastern Ky.
ELLIOTTVILLE, Ky. — Deep in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, there’s a mysterious place where plastic baby dolls live out their final days.
Nature takes its course at this comfortable country home where hound dogs roam free and decapitated doll heads litter picket fences. Each doll at the home has been abandoned. Some abused. Others are shot full of bullet holes.
Some, even, might be possessed.
Now they rest in peace, decaying away in trees, cages and box springs at the Home for Wayward Babydolls. The home is the work of Cecil R. Ison, a folk artist and “slightly mad scientist” and his wife, Bet.
Ison’s official title is the director of the International Assembly of Forensic Anthropomorphologists, which is the study of human-like objects.
Ison’s specialty? Hard plastic bodies.
Ison, 68, first began noticing discarded dolls in the wilderness while working as an archaeologist at the Daniel Boone National Forest. He carried them back to his office, curious about their past and how they’d met their demise.
Soon, his office became filled with discarded dolls and doll parts, and when he retired, the baby dolls followed him home.
Now, he studies them, looking for foregone conclusions of their demise in the decaying resin in what he says is an equally fractured, violent and plastic world.
“My first encounter with an abused Anthropol morph occurred in 1984 when I discovered a baby doll that had a tick pinned to its forehead,” Ison recalls. “Why would someone discard a baby doll and attach a tick to it? It piqued my interest on the affliction of trauma on these small objects of love.
“My colleagues thought it was something that only happened in Kentucky, just a bizarre behavior of Kentuckians. Then I started finding them elsewhere. I found one victim in the Three Sisters Wilderness area in California, miles from the nearest civilization. What was this baby doll doing out there? How did it get there and why was it dropped off there?”
Word soon traveled about Ison’s interest in discarded dolls.
“A law enforcement officer brought in two specimens for my opinion. They were found at the end of a remote logging road, and it was Ken and Barbie. Both had been sexually molested. Ken had been burned and a condom had been pulled over his body. Both were discarded in the middle of the forest,” he said.