The Floyd Van Alstyne Story
A Video Oral History of a 97-year-Old Vermont farmer, logger, WWII Veteran who is also America's Oldest Commercial Truck Driver.
This project is personal. I first met Floyd in 2015 when he delivered a load of lumber from the sawmill he and his sons operate at their farm in East Barnard, Vermont. At 97, Floyd claims to be the oldest licensed commercial truck driver in the country. As he dumped the load of rough-cut hemlock, he sized up the driveway I had been grading with a bulldozer.
'Not bad - for a writer', he deadpanned.
He had read the book I had recently written about the Royalton Raid and he started to talk about it and the rest of the Revolutionary War, and then the War of 1812 and then both world wars and genealogy, the History of Vermont, and much more. Floyd has been reading history books all his life, but never went to high school. When he finished the 8th grade he had to make a living and went into the local logging camps and that was his life until he enlisted the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Floyd and his wife Marjorie are the oldest married couple in East Barnard. But age is not the most remarkable thing about either of them. What's remarkable is the lives they have led and their encyclopedic memory of their experience - and not just theirs, but the handed-down collective experience of several generations of friends, neighbors and families.
This enterprise began as an oral history project to make a record of the lives of Floyd and Marjorie. They are part of an ever-dwindling generation of people who are nothing less than a national treasure, and I wanted to make sure they were recorded.
I have been video-taping them in sit-down interviews and in daily activity for over a year and have begun by producing a series of chapters: 1) Floyd's early life; 2) Floyd's WWII experience; 3) the family's maple syrup operation; 4) the family's sawmill. Other chapters would be: Floyd's life in the logging camps; life in pre-war small town Vermont villages and farms; how it has evolved and, along with it, the landscape, the economy, the politics, the people.
Producer/Director: Neil Goodwin
Sales & Distribution Info: Peace River Films
Stock Footage: Peace River Films