This print is a common representation of a guardian angel. She watches over the boy and girl to see them safely across the bridge. While many postcards of the day depicted angels, printing one with a bridge, sort of broke the mold for the printer which is Lindberg, not the artist, I do remember reading there was company in Poland, although Heilige Schutzengel is German for Holy Guardian, or Guardian Angel. These old postcards don’t have a signature, though someone named Lieber did similar work according to one source, I could not verify an artist.
The postcards have became popular lithographs and hung in nurseries and homes even today and make wonderful gifts. From 1900 or up to 1909, the were postcards and the prints and became popular in the south, all through Appalachia.
The familiar southernism, ” If the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise. ” even has a tie to it. The original saying was that someone would see you, ” If the Good Lord was willing and the Creek Indians did not uprise. ” It changes with the time to refer to the creek beneath the bridge.
The reason being that so many people lived in rural areas and near footbridges, that took them to town or school, even church. Many times the bridges were unsafe, missing a board or two, could be flooded or muddied, rickety at best, even just a foot log. I`even have an ancestor who fell off one. Guardian angels were a necessity then and now, in fact, all through history.
It was not only the South but many places that travel was sketchy and dangerous, all across Europe and the southwest United States as well, unless you went by stage or train, it was a carriage or buckboard, horseback or on foot, that was the mode of transportation. Towns, villages and hamlets were quaint little places and a footbridge, a familiar site.
Over the next few days we will look at some more examples of these guardian angels, but the angel on the bridge is a common theme and varies. And there are several others that were probably even predating this one, it may or may not have been the first bridge, but it was this print we see so often that was the one that took off in popularity among worshipers in the south and would hang in churches and Sunday Schools, and even homes across America and abroad, and they still do. While we may not have bridges to cross, there is a spiritual implication, and we definitely need them on freeways, bridges and over passes. His peace, Rebecca Jones / public domain