Sarah (Liotta) Triscaro was born in Cleveland on May 1, 1919 on E. 144th and Kinsman to a working-class father and a housewife during the Depression. Anthony Liotta and Josephine (Fazio) Liotta were immigrants from Sicily. Anthony was from Provincia Messina and Josephine from Sant'Agata. They had immigrated together to the U.S., settled in Cleveland and married around 1907. Sarah had seven brothers and sisters, all of which her mother gave birth to at home with the help of a midwife.
Anthony worked as a construction worker and then foreman, forced to move his family twice within their Cleveland neighborhood after losing his first house to the Depression. Josephine was a traditional Sicilian mother – a hardworking homemaker.
In 1937, Sarah graduated from John Adams High School. As were the times, most Italian Americans did not attend college and her family was no exception. Without the financial capabilities of further education, most high school graduates, particularly of Italian American descent, entered into a trade or joined the military. In fact, three of Sarah’s brothers were in the U.S. Army and stationed in Italy during WWII. Two of them were combat soldiers during the battle of Anzio Beach. After being discharged, one suffered from PTSD and was treated at the Brecksville, OH VA Hospital.
In 1940, at the age of 21, Sarah married N. Louis “Babe” Triscaro, a professional fighter and Cleveland Labor Leader. The couple had two daughters, Joanne and Victoria. Sarah, Babe and their daughters lived in Shaker Heights until 1958 when Babe built a house in Pepper Pike for his family. Sarah was a proud housewife for 38 years.
Upon Babe’s death in 1974, Sarah moved to Mayfield Hts., living with Joanne until 1976 when she purchased the house next door. She lived here up until a few months ago when she was reluctantly admitted by her family to Landerbrook Nursing Home after an injury she incurred from an accidental fall.
From the time their grandchildren were born, Sarah and Babe hosted Sunday dinner every week. Even after Babe’s death, Sarah’s daughters and grandchildren would always meet at her house around 3 p.m. each Sunday for pasta dinner. It never mattered what the family was doing. Everyone made sure to spend time together as a family and to be with Sarah. She loved cooking her homemade pasta and sauce for the family. Sarah prepared each meal by herself starting in the early morning and making sure there was plenty to go around. The family gatherings at Sarah’s house on Sunday afternoon lasted up until this past year. They are memories that the family will treasure forever.
Throughout her life, Sarah has rubbed elbows with many notable people. Louis Prima and May West visited her home in Pepper Pike. Her eldest daughter Joanne’s wedding to Sam Busacca Sr., also a Cleveland Labor Leader, in 1959 at the Carter Hotel is considered one of the largest wedding receptions in the history of Cleveland hosting over 3,000 guests including Rocky Graziano, Rocky Marciano, Rocky Colavito, James Hoffa, Joey Bishop, and multiple senators and congressmen.
Sarah is a proud mother, grandmother to five and great-grandmother to four. As the last surviving member of her siblings, she celebrated her 100th birthday with her family last May. Sarah received centennial recognition from President Trump’s Office, Governor Mike DeWine, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Ohio Senator Kenny Yuko, Bishop Nelson Perez, and Mayfield Hts. Mayor Anthony DiCicco. Throughout her life, Sarah has enjoyed bowling, working in her garden, crochet, and needlepoint.
Although Sarah was not privileged to become a doctor, scholar, lawyer, or business professional, she has lived by the traditional values that serve as guiding principles for many Italian Americans today. The kitchen was where Sarah created new dishes and the home was where she created herself. The rags were like tools, the female equivalent of hammers, chisels and saws. She always felt a sense of purpose and meaning through taking care of the family. Sarah was not a silent woman in the home; the home was her domain and her work was an expression of love. Sarah so elegantly embraced and personified the Italian tradition and culture.
Sarah represents a strong first-generation Italian American woman who has dedicated her life to her family and gracefully took on traditional gender roles for a century.
Special thanks to Louis A. Busacca, Ph.D. and the entire Triscaro family
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