I believe I must have spent 12 hours trying to figure this out-then I got my return call from Apple. Then took me 5 minutes to get it fixed! Recall I had this cycle of restart and could never access the blue apple screen-and I couldn't get a safe screen started! Well, when I pressed and held the shift key after pressing the power button, it opened and all is good. The Apple guy said something about linking the new installation to the old info. Amazing. But there was one prior step and I believe it was: press P and R and command alt at powering on-that did not take me into the system but just to the user account page where I could not access my account and computer only the guest account limited to Safari and nothing else on the system. So I want to remember that power on and shift and this may have been the time I also had to wait for 2 beeps before releasing. It's always difficult to remember the 'cure' as the excitement with success leaves one rejoicing and not mindful!
Thanks for the help