After thinking that the file system was pretty much done for, I had an "aha!" Ubuntu Linux (and presumably most contemporary Linux distributions) will mount NTFS partitions as read-only file systems. So, I slaved the disk to one of my Ubuntu boxes. The Linux automounter wouldn't have anything to do with it, but the system did recognize that the drive had an NTFS partition (reporting it as 'inaccessible'). So, as root I told the system to just go ahead and mount it anyway ... Viola! It came up properly read-only, and I was able to copy the files off of it.
Mark-my-unidicted-co-conspriator had a suggestion about twiddling the registry on my Win2k PC to force it to check the bad disk on bootup (e.g. change the registry, shut down the PC, add in the problem disk and reboot). It's academic now, but I will give it a try: it's always good to know more than one way to un-cook a cooked goose.
And open source had another save today. Asha came back from her advisor's place with a Word doc that they'd been working on for hours, and the thing was corrupt. Word just threw up its hands and died when you tried to 'save' or 'save as'. I opened it with OpenOffice, saved it as a "Word 97/Word 2000" document and passed it back to Asha. Again, viola! Whatever trivial-but-fatal thing that was wrong inside the file was fixed.
To paraphrase Einstein (or was it Oppenheimer?): You cannot always fix a problem with the same kind of tools you used to create the problem!