The mouse that roared

Published 4:13 pm Saturday, May 13, 2023

By Gene Hays


Steve Morris was from Saginaw, Michigan, and later his parents moved to Detroit. While Steve was growing up, he never forgot his elementary school teacher, Mrs. Beneduci. She encouraged Steve to be extraordinary and gave him courage to be exceptional. 

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Mrs. Beneduci was a wise woman who realized Steve, a nine-year old, would probably not take heed of that encouragement. With the unwitting aid of a little gray mouse, she seized an opportunity from which Steve knew his greatest pride, the calling of a life. 

In a tiny grade school class, Mrs. Beneduci called her classroom to order. “Settle down, people, we’re going to open with history today.” While the little ones squirmed in their seats, Mrs. Beneduci told the class she realized they would rather be outside on such a beautiful day. She began her class with the question, “Who was Abraham Lincoln?” 

No one volunteered to answer so after calling on two of her students who couldn’t answer she called on Steve. Without hesitation, he answered, “He was the 16th President of the United States.” Mrs. Beneduci paused, listening to a noise of something scratching faintly. “Can any of you tell me what that noise is?”  She answered her own question, “It seems like it’s a little mouse.” 

Knowing of the special gift Steve Morris had, she called on him. Steve sat upright in his chair asking everyone to be quiet. In that stillness of a moment, little Steve cocked his head, paused for a moment, and then he pointed at the wastebasket, proudly stating, “He’s right over there and I can hear him!” 

He heard the little gray mouse rummaging through the wastebasket, not wanting to be caught. But little Steve Morris discovered him; nature had given little Steve a remarkable pair of ears to compensate for the eyes denied him at birth. 

Mrs. Beneduci continued to encourage little Steve’s talent that the world now knows and respects, and always reminded little Steve of that little gray mouse. Steve Morris became a singer-composer-musician-producer with five Grammys, 17 gold singles, four gold albums and four platinum records. 

Little Steve from the time he was 10, for his gifted ears, was never known as anything but Little Stevie Wonder.

Excerpts from Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story.”

Gene Hays is an author and historian with books on He can be reached at