If you had to name a story about undying love, you may think of a Shakespeare play or Jane Austen novel. But, one of the most heartwarming love stories was a complete secret – and completely real. While searching through the attic of his father’s house, a son came across boxes of old items. The most interesting were piles of love letters sent from a man named Max. From 1913-1978, Max and Pearle wrote each other. All his letters begin with “My Sweet Pearle” and end with “Forever yours, Max”. These letters were supposed to have been burned when Pearle passed away in 1980, but the family didn’t honor those wishes, and one of the greatest love stories began to unfold.
In 1911, a woman named Pearle Schwarz met a man named Maxwell Savelle at the Country Club. They fell madly in love. Unfortunately, Maxwell would not convert to Judaism (his parents were Southern Baptists) and so they could not be together. They went their separate ways – Maxwell went into the Navy and Pearle continued to pine for him until she died. She never let go. He married eventually, though the letters do not include much information about that.
There were hundreds upon hundreds of letters, all filled with the emotional writings of a man who never stopped loving a woman, even though they could never be together.
“I love you. I can say no more. – Max” This is the note he wrote to Pearle after she told him they could only marry if he converted religions. He immediately moved away. The next letters are in postmarked envelopes.
“Monday Evening – I understand. I have understood from the beginning. I only lacked your confirmation of my belief. I cannot come to the club anymore. I am weak and cannot make myself undergo the torture that would mean for me, and why, because I love you. I could not bear to be near you and see you and feel that you…” The rest of the letter is lost. The envelope says “The first letter I received after telling him we could not be together.” (Written by Pearle.)
This is Maxwell H. Savelle. After leaving Mobile, he joined the Navy. He went on to earn his MA, MBA, and PhD from Columbia University, taught history there and later became a professor of American Colonial History at the University of Washington. He published numerous papers, wrote a handful of books, and some of you may have even taken history classes which used his textbooks. He passed away in 1979 at the age of 83, survived by at least one daughter, who we think is named Michelle/Michele.
They continued to write each other for the rest of their lives. The only letters found were from Max; the family hopes to find Pearle’s letters so that they can get the whole story.
Letters were delivered to Pearle from Africa, Spain, Chile, Canada, Washington, Rhode Island, France.
No matter where the war took him, no matter where he was… he always wrote. It’s clear from the content of the letters that these are replies and they continued their correspondence for over 65 years.
Little information was found on Pearle.
She apparently led a quiet life until the 60s, when she went on vacation in Indiana. There, she met a man named Al, who apparently thought the world of her. Her friends convinced her that marrying Al was a brilliant idea.
She went home at the end of her vacation and weeks later, received a phone call telling her that Al had passed away. She passed away in 1980, 3 months after hearing of Max’s death. The family searched through crumbling photo albums for hours, trying to find a picture of Pearle. This was the only one that was found.
This is a photo Max sent to Pearle in 1964. This photo matches the photo used on the UW website for the Max Savelle Endowment Library Fund, which is how the family discovered who the mysterious Max was. Most of the letters are illegible, so we didn’t have much of an idea about who Max was.
Pearle and Max were obviously meant to be together, their love was passionate and undying. Most of us could only dream of finding a love like this in our lifetime.
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