POLLAY, Harry

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POLLAY, Harry Gardner (1865-1949), Illinois-born, one of three children of Mr. and Mrs. John Pollay. In 1886 the family moved from Chicago to Pasadena, and shortly thereafter Harry, in his early 20s, moved to Santa Catalina Island for several years. While he lived in Avalon, Pollay collected a number of plants; some of his specimens (1889-1891) are in the U. S. National Herbarium. He returned to Pasadena, and from 1902-1906 was superintendent for the Harkness Ranch, where he took great interest in horticulture, planting rare trees, including more than 30 varieties of oranges. In 1906 the ranch was sold to the Pasadena Board of Education for the site of the Pasadena High School. That same year, Pollay married Genevieve Frary Brown (1877-1963). He became a successful realtor; they lived (1889-1891)at 24 S. Sierra Bonita Ave., Pasadena.

“Mrs. Pollay recalls Harry’s love for Catalina Island and water sports, as well as his life-time interest in botany and horticulture. As a young man here, he owned a sailboat and several row boats and was one of several youths of his time to row from Catalina to San Pedro, considered quite a remarkable fet even today. Later in life he was an avid traveler, the family taking many long automobile trips together.” (January 31, 1960, Independent Star News, Pasadena).



Island Collections~

Santa Catalina Island

1889-1891 USNH




In the News~

April 21, 1926 [TI/Avalon]: “Editor, The Catalina Islander: … I have authentic information on this point I will give it to you: Mr. Harry G. Pollay was a resident of Avalon from 1888 to 1891, and kept a diary during that time. Mr. Pollay has assisted me in the research work which I am doing on the early history of Catalina, and the following item appears in his diary: ‘May 1889. Rowed across the channel to San Pedro, starting from Quarry Point near Goat Harbor, in my 13-feet, 6 inch flat bottom boat. Spent the night at Quarry Point. Left at 6 o’clock next morning—dead calm all day ‘til about three miles from the lighthouse, then commenced to blow and spray—wet me. Arrived about 5 o’clock. Took my time, reading while rowing. Shipped the boat back to Avalon. Made the trip just for a stunt, eleven hours—but never again!’ Mr. Pollay was the party who challenged Ed Hargitt, Charlie Elms and Al Carraher to row around the island. They started from Avalon at 8 P.M., April 25, 1890, and arrived at the Isthmus at 3:30 A.M. His diary continues: ‘Launch Wanda anchored at Isthmus. Boarded her and slept there. Had breakfast with Portuguese Joe on shore. Started from other side and rowed back around Seal Rocks. Pretty rough off Silver Canyon. Each of us in his own boat...’ Cordially yours, Charlotte M. Brown, Librarian”

April 6, 1927 [TI/Avalon]: “There is a prospect of a rowboat race between the island and the mainland in June, according to Miss Brown. In respet to this she added that in her collection she has the diary of a Mr. Harry Pollay, who in 1890 rowed across the channel in eleven hours.”