OGDEN -- It is a weekday afternoon, and Tammy Jo Summers is hustling to fill drink orders behind the L-shaped bar at Rockin' T Saloon. She mixes two Beam and Cokes for a couple at one side of the bar while regular Brad Bennett hollers out for a beer from the other end. She smiles as she pops the cap off a Miller High Life and slides it to him.
Summers has worked at the saloon for only just more than two months, but behind this bar she is at home. She is at home because here she is surrounded by family. She is at home because hard times come and go, but that family, she is discovering, never leaves.
"I've never felt more loved by people I barely know in my whole life," Summers said over the dull chatter filling the bar as she refilled a pitcher of beer.
Summers lives in Uintah in a dilapidated two-room trailer home. Until recently, she lived there with three of her five sons, but that situation changed last week. On Aug. 22, Summers alleges, her ex-husband, Jared Quintana, assaulted their 14-year-old son, a claim Ogden Police Lt. Tim Scott confirmed is being investigated.
As a result, all five sons -- including a 9-year-old with spina bifida -- are now living with her in the trailer, which is not equipped for a family that big or a son with a disability.
Word of what had allegedly happened quickly spread. Summers' coworkers and many of the bar's patrons banded together. By the evening after the alleged assault, Summers had discovered what it means to be part of the saloon's family.
Other members of that family already had begun arrangements to make the trailer habitable for Summers' children. Her gas had been shut off, so they brought in a heater to keep the trailer warm until enough money can be raised to turn the gas back on. They brought in couches with hideaway beds, so the kids would have a place to sleep. They are planning to build a ramp to the trailer's door, so Summers' disabled son can make it into the home by himself.
Standing behind the bar, tattoos peeking out of her black tank top and red-tinged dark hair falling on her shoulders, Summers marvels that people she's known for such a short time have given so much of themselves for her.
"The sense of community and family here is overwhelming," she said after listing off the other things they plan on doing for her, which include painting the trailer and installing tile and a dishwasher in the kitchen. "It's unbelievable. That's the only word I can come up with."
Bennett, who has been coming to the bar for more than 20 years, wears a cowboy hat and sips from his Miller. He explains why so many from the saloon have felt compelled to help Summers. They see a woman who wants nothing more than to provide for her sons. They see a member of their family struggling, and that is something they won't watch without taking action.
"Every time I come in here, which is every day, damn near, Tammy Jo has made herself part of us," Bennett said. "We're a family. I don't care if anybody thinks we're just beer drinkers or what, but we take care of our own."
Adds Tim Noppe, who banters back and forth with Summers from the end of the bar: "She seems to me like a hard-working single mom that is struggling to take care of her kids. That's all that matters to her, is taking care of those kids. For her to do what she's doing, going through the (expletive) she's going through, I would be happy to help her out."
Jeff Chapman, who doesn't come into the saloon as often as the regulars but knows many who frequent the bar, said there's another reason he's been eager to help Summers. He has suffered through hard times. And he knows what it's like to be the benefactor of kindness when it's needed most.
"I've got three kids myself," he said. "We had welfare assistance and stuff like that before I got a job. People would give and give and give to me. I got on top of my game, and now it's my turn to give it back."
The thing that strikes Summers most about those who are helping her is that they'd do it for anyone in need. She knows that, because she has seen it many times before, just in her short time working at the saloon.
"Everybody here is going through something, living a very real life," said Summers, whose court records show she pleaded guilty to a pair of class B misdemeanors in 2005, for DUI and possession of drug paraphernalia, but has otherwise steered clear of the law.
"No one here is trying to bull (expletive) each other. ... If there's a need that needs to be met that comes across this bar, these fellas will figure it out."
Of course, the help doesn't come without expectations. Summers has been given a gift, she knows, and when the time comes that she is able to pass it on to someone else, it is a responsibility she must fulfill.
"Good people do good things for good people," she said, scanning the saloon and finding friendly faces looking back at her. "And I strive to be a good person. There's not anyone in here I wouldn't do something for."
Contact reporter Bubba Brown at 801-625-4221 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BubbaBrownSE.