Odd name: Plennie Wingo

Plennie Wingo

The other day, I spotted a strange little name: Plennie L. Wingo.

It belonged to a Texan who was born in 1895 and passed away in 1993. His big claim to fame? He walked 8,000 miles backwards in 15 months, from 1931 to 1932.

Why did he do it? The Great Depression was underway, and his restaurant had failed. “With the whole world going backwards,” he wrote in his book Around the World Backwards, “maybe the only way to see it was to turn around.”

[Plennie’s name confused one Baltimore Sun reporter so much that he was given a sex change: “Plennie Wingo, of Abilene, Texas, began walking backward in 1931 in Santa Monica, Calif. She didn’t stop until she wound up a year later in Istanbul, Turkey.”]


  • O’Mara, Richard. “Running With a Strange Crowd.” Baltimore Sun 21 Oct. 1995.
  • Gillespie, Spike. “Backwards Around the World Plennie Wingo Walked.” Texas Co-op Power Feb. 2004: 22-23.

7 thoughts on “Odd name: Plennie Wingo

  1. The first time I heard of Plennie Wingo I was working in a pizza shop in San Marcos, TX. The owner was Kerry Wingo and told me that a close relative of his (great grandfather or great uncle; I don’t remember) walked around the world backwards. I thought he was full of corn until I looked it up in the Guiness Book of World Records. During his trans-oceanic voyages, he walked backwards aboard the ships. He sounds like a strange man. We probably would have gotten along famously.

  2. I remember as a kid going to visit Bruce Wingo, Plennie Wingos brother.. They are distant relatives of mine a great great uncle.. I found the stories so fascenating as a child & even got 2 see a pair of his glasses he used.. They had Mirrows attached to the sides so he could see where he was going, I saw some of the books he wrote during some of his travels as well & the stories were non stop of the amazing adventure he took. It was 1985 last I saw them but will never forget the enlightenment that was brought to me as a child!!!

  3. Mr. Wingo came to speak at our school when I was 10. Since there were only 40 of us in the entire school, we got to spend time asking questions and trying on his spectacles. I wondered how he walked backwards across the water. Boy, was I impressed to discover that he kept it up on his transatlantic ship!

  4. I’m actually related to Plennie L. Wingo. My grandmas last name was Wingo before she got married… She told me a little bit about him. She used to visit him just about every year. She told me that Plennie might be a cousin to me I can’t remember what relation he was to her I’ll have to ask.

  5. That would be brilliant, Corey. He was such a lovely man to know. How cool that you’re family! :)

  6. im related to plennie and even have his book he was my grandpas uncle i think im only 12 so i dont kno much :P

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