"Standing outside all day, my feet get wet and very cold," Frank Procopio said. He is the co-owner, with Jack Herzog, of a new newsstand at 1210 Massachusetts Avenue. They sell bubble gum, cigarettes, and the New York Times-and, Procopio said, they face many problems.
"Harassment is too strong a word but some strange things have happened," Procopio said. During their first week of operation the lines of their public telephone were crossed so that every time a call was made the alarm at the Cambridge Armory went off. Also the major Boston newspaper distributor delivered only 25 Sunday Globes one week, then 30 another. Last week a police sergeant, armed with a ruler, came to check the legality of their street stand. "We were close enough to the curb but our competitor wasn't. It was a small victory for us," Procopio said.
Procopio wants to renovate the present site into a combination newsstand-bookstore, "with something for everyone." But the city of Cambridge has refused to allow them a construction permit because the newsstand is in a building zone restricted to offices.
According to Procopio, the unwritten law of Harvard Square's newspaper dealers is made by Sheldon Cohen, owner of "Out of Town Newspapers, Inc." Procopio charged yesterday that Cohen's dislike for competitors has been the source of many of their troubles. "We are pennies compared to Cohen but he gets so uptight about us. We don't understand it."
Cohen denied, last night, any involvement with the alleged harassment. "I wish him well. There's enough money in the Square for everybody. I know how it is when you're just starting and I certainly wouldn't make it any harder," he said.
The newsstand is Procopio's first business venture. Six weeks on the job have left him with a new view of the English language. "The key word," he said yesterday, "is survival."