A Quiet Friday Evening
The three-story yellow brick Pearl River County Courthouse sat back on a large lawn on which citizens had erected a small monument to Theodore Bilbo in 1947. Beyond the lush, trusty-tended lawn lay Main Street, the street that divided Poplarville., No traffic passed through the front entrance of the courthouse; unused desks and chairs blocked it from the inside. The south entrance, on West Pearl Street, served as the main entrance, although the north exit on West Willie Street was open for use. The jail annex, attached to the rear of the courthouse, opened onto the second floor just outside the courtroom where Parker had been arraigned and indicted. Although the jail was three stories high, the actual cell block was only two stories. From the second floor of the courthouse a half-flight of iron stairs led down into the lower four cells of two beds each. The second level, a half-flight up from the second floor of the courthouse, contained a bullpen and two additional cells, which housed the black inmates. The windows in the cells afforded a view of South Julia Street, behind the courthouse; the parking lot directly across Julia; and the Pearl River County Hospital, a small, one-story building that looked more like a family residence than a hospital. The parking lot served the hospital, the courthouse, and the one-room county Health Department, where Francis Barker worked.