Engmar and doc.nice - thanks for the responses.
Here's what I did.
returned (among many other things)
# Disalows other than root logins when /etc/nologin exists
# (Replaces the 'NOLOGINS_FILE' option from login.defs)
auth requisite pam_nologin.so
revealed that /etc/nologin did, in fact, exist.
"System bootup in progress - please wait"
Using vim inserted '#' character at beginning of the line "auth........."
Saved and exited vim.
Opened tty2 and in response to login: prompt typed "user."
Got Password: prompt. Typed password.
I'M LOGGED IN AS USSER.
Thanks for the good steers.