Catherine the Great owned a pearl necklace containing 389 pearls and weighing nearly 10 pounds, almost as heavy as the curse it carried for its owners. It was worth a million dollars when it disappeared at the beginning of the 20th century, only to resurface in the hands of the Dodge family. Then the two Dodge brothers, John and Horace, died within a year of each other. John was 55, Horace only 52. Their premature deaths in 1920, attributable to the worldwide influenza pandemic of 1918, ended one of the first chapters of American automotive history, but the Dodge name remains alive and well. John Dodge was born in Niles, Mich., in 1864; his brother, Horace, in 1868. As John described it, the family was nearly destitute, the boys going "barefooted" and wearing "ragged clothes" in the winter. Perhaps their poverty was a bit embellished, because the boys finished high school instead of working in their teens.