I solved the problem!
My computer was never getting was never getting to LILO on boot. This
was an older Dell P90 that couldn't recognize larger drives. I
downloaded a BIOS upgrade that "appeared" to let the IDE controller
recognizr the 20GB Western Digital drive. I was able to fully install
linux and warm reboot, but whenn I powered down the computer and
restarted it wouldn't find the hard drive. I could boot from a floppy.
I finally solved the problem by installing a Promise DriveMAX card
(BIOS on a card) and the drive was fully recognized and linux booted
up via LILO just fine.
I happened to see the DriveMAX on the shelf next to the other IDE
controller cards I was contemplating buying to try another solution.
It was a pure flike that I stumbled on that as the solution.
Abosultely no one else had any recommendations anything like using the
DriveMAX. A Dell tech friend of mine was even telling me to download a
debug script from Dell to erase the MBR on the drive and try again.