They say if you remember the 1960s, you weren't there.
But Helen Sweatt remembers. She remembers living with her husband and two school-age children in a house on 29th Avenue S in St. Petersburg. She remembers her all-white neighborhood becoming integrated during the decade of social change. As one of the first female officers in the St. Petersburg Police Department, she remembers when her supervisor said she couldn't be one of the force's best officers because she wasn't a man.
Sweatt, 81, laughed softly at the memory. "That seems unusual to us now, but in the '60s, that was normal," she said.
As Sweatt told highlights of her 27-year career to the cameras, Kelly Malizia, manager of the St. Petersburg Library System, leaned forward, intrigued by Sweatt's recollection of how life was half a century ago.
Sweatt was the fifth and last long-term St. Petersburg resident to swing by the Mirror Lake Library that day. She could be one of several featured in a film that will compile the stories of St. Petersburg during the decade of peace, love and harmony to celebrate the St. Petersburg Main Library's 50th anniversary.
Saturday is the last chance for residents to share their stories at the Main Library, 3745 Ninth Ave. N. To celebrate the anniversary, the library will have free food, games and bands playing 1960s music beginning at 10 a.m. for all ages.
"We thought it'd be a good idea to honor the elderly and their stories," Malizia said.
The project, the brainchild of Malizia, was inspired by National Public Radio's StoryCorps. But Malizia desired a visual element, so she turned to her husband Joel Malizia's production company, Pilot Moon Films.
The film will be ready for showing around May, Malizia said, but a date hasn't been set. The showing will be free and open to the public.
The Malizias, along with their production partner Dave Allison, said they enjoyed listening to details of everyday life back then, from the Beatles to the civil rights movement.
"It seems like St. Pete has a generally nice undertone," Joel Malizia said.
Colleen Wright can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8913. Follow @Colleen_Wright on Twitter.